Fast paced advancements in technology have brought with it a myriad of options for the hearing loss industry.
No longer are options few and far between. You now have hearing devices that are not only invisible to the naked eye but wearable day and night and with a battery life that lasts up to three months.
Hearing loss is often wrongly associated with an image or reference to a large hearing aid, prolifically depicted in movies.
Advancements in the hearing loss industry has helped move away from this model and give patients more variety in the devices they use and suitability to their lifestyle, such as the Lyric. Technology and its rapid movement has impacted and will continue to impact the hearing loss industry.
The industry is now looking at 3D printing as a means to restore hearing.
Researchers at University of Maryland in Baltimore recently created a 3D printed custom-designed prosthetic replacement for damaged parts of the middle ear.
Hearing loss caused by damage to the ossicles, bones that help transmit vibrations from the eardrum to the sensory organ of hearing, is what the study looks to eradicate.
At the moment there are surgical procedures to fix the ossicles but the success rate is low due to the ‘fit’ of tailored prostheses.
The study gives hope to the success rate of custom designed prostheses, as those with a more exact fit have a higher success rate.
The often sub-millimetre differences in the accuracy of designed prostheses is the key to its success.
The study’s author Jeffrey D. Hirsch said the accuracy of 3D printing meant the results were almost always a ‘snap fit’.
A snap fit, according to the study, helps the procedure gain a higher success rate.
The next step for researchers is to look at combining the 3D printing with stem cells, in a way that would allow the stem cells to mature into the bone and permanently fix hearing loss.
How would you feel about having a 3D printed device implanted to help your hearing?