Health Beat: Say what!? The invisible hearing aid

Author: , Anchor / Reporter, @Melanie_Falcon, MFalcon@wfmz.com
Published: Jun 03 2013 10:29:21 AM EDT   Updated On: Jun 03 2013 06:15:23 PM EDT
Esteem hearing aid

Hearing loss is the third most common physical condition after heart disease and arthritis. So, scientists and doctors have created a new way to help you hear.

Hearing aids used to be the only option, but not anymore. Now, there's an option that's invisible and you can wear it anywhere: the Esteem hearing implant

It has helped people like LoriAnn Harnish.  At 5-years-old, a fever cost her 65 percent of her hearing.

Dr. Abraham Jacob, director of the Arizona Ear Institute, praises the Esteem. 

"I think this is the biggest breakthrough we’ve had in terms of rehabilitating hearing since cochlear implants," said Jacob.

The invisible device is implanted behind the ear and turns parts of it into a microphone, Jacob said.

"The device uses the eardrum and native hearing bones to sense sound energy," explained Jacob. 

That energy, he said, is sent to the inner ear for interpretation, creating a clearer, more natural sound.

The limitations of the Esteem are fewer than traditional hearing aids. 

"The patient is able to go in the shower, wear it at night, wear it in the pool.  It’s a completely different way to hear… because they can hear all the time if they want to," Jacob said.

For Harnish, it’s meant a new hobby: playing the piano. 

"It’s enriching my life in ways I had not expected," Harnish said.

The Esteem costs about $35,000 per ear and is not yet covered by insurance.

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