New surgery at SSM Health helping some people hear again

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – Its an ability many take for granted, being able to hear out of both ears. But a new surgery being done at SSM Health is giving some the ability to do just that. A few years ago, a new device was created to help people who cannot wear a hearing aid, but SSM is now taking that technology a step further.

Paige Orman has been dealing with single-sided deafness since she was born.

“She was essentially born on one side, she has no ear canal and she has very little exterior ear on that side,” Molly Orman, Paige's mother said.

An obstacle that has led to many challenges for the seven-year-old.

“It's kind of like being blind in one eye, where you have no depth perception,” Orman said. “It is very hard to locate sounds or pick out one voice in a crowd.”

Technology allowed Paige to have a hearing device attached to a band as an infant so she could develop speech.

But what happens when she gets older?

“So the old version has an abutment that kind of looks like a little piece that sticks out and the sound processor clips on the outside,” Audiologist Sarah Childress said.

For Paige this surgery would not be possible.

“Her doctor, at the time, was concerned she had very sensitive skin and it might be an issue because of that.” Orman said.

But a new surgery being done at SSM Health gave her hope.

“With the new version there's a magnet implanted underneath and the device just clips on with the magnet. So when its off, there isn't anything that's sticking out or that could get in the way,” Childress said.

One small change, making a big difference.

“I can hear better,” Paige said. “We've just been amazed of what they've been able to do with her that has made it a lot easier for her to deal with it,” her mom added.

“Its a little more freeing. So if they want to take it off and go swimming or do other activities there isn't a post getting in the way,” Childress said. “The other issue is the device itself has been upgraded so the computer chip on the inside is working much better, and its able to pair wirelessly with technology, which is giving patients an easier time out in the real world and it actually goes directly to iPhone so they can make some adjustment using an app on their phone.”

A piece of technology that could help many.

“There's certainly a lot of patients out there that could benefit from this technology that don't know about it so hopefully we can serve those people,” Dr. Justin McNamar, said.

SSM Health Doctors say people who are not able to wear a hearing aid or suffer from single-sided deafness are the perfect candidates for this surgery.