SoundBite Hearing System Helps Oklahomans Hear Again

"About 2 or 3 years ago, I started noticing my hearing was not as good in my right ear as it was in my left."

Dustin Brown's life changed when he was diagnosed with a rare tumor involving his Cochlear nerve. Doctors removed the right side Cochlear nerve so he lost hearing in his right ear.

But a new device at OU Medicine called the SoundBite Hearing System is helping those like Dustin with single-sided deafness.

"To be able to transmit sound from the side they can't hear to the good ear so they can actually use that sound," OU Physician Dr. Betty Tsai said.

Dr. Tsai says sound can travel through any kind of medium: water, air, or a solid like bone.

"In fact, sound travels more efficiently thru bone that it does air," she said.

Here's how it works. A patient wears two devices. First, a behind-the-ear microphone that picks up sound.

"There's just a little wire that goes right here and the speaker is actually inside my ear," said Brown. "Then back behind is the receiver that transmits it to the piece in my mouth."

That in-mouth hearing device fits around a back molar. The device vibrates teeth and allows patients to hear via bone conduction.

"It does not give him back the sound localization, but it does allow him to hear the person sitting on that poor hearing side," said Dr. Angela Gathers, also with OU Physicians..

Brown says the SoundBite Hearing System worked instantly and perfectly. He notices it working when he's in the car with his wife.

"While I'm driving down the road I can actually hear what she's saying now because it's on my right side."