Rev. Dr. Ronald C. Christiansen
After struggling with hearing loss most of his life, a 69-year old retired minister from Lancaster, Pa., is now able to hear even the softest voice thanks to a bone-anchored hearing aid.
The Rev. Dr. Ronald C. Christiansen began losing his hearing when scarlet fever scarred his Eustachian tubes as a young child and recurrent ear infections damaged his eardrums. Even with two hearing aids, one worn since 1968 and two since 1972, he found it increasingly difficult to hear many sounds that most people take for granted. Five years ago, as his hearing worsened, he retired after 40 years as a United Church of Christ minister. But now, with the help of a bone-anchored hearing aid (Baha), he is ready to take on a new challenge -- ministering to sick patients and their families as a hospice volunteer, where as Dr. Christiansen says, "being able to hear a soft voice is a must."
"For speech reproduction, I would give the Baha system an eight or nine on a scale of 10, with 10 being the highest score. That is compared to a five for an in-ear hearing aid," said Dr. Christiansen. "This device has really helped to change my life."
Dr. Christiansen, who wears the strongest of the Baha aids with a 9-volt battery pack, says he is able to hear people more clearly now, especially soft-spoken voices and even those with soft voices speaking in crowded rooms. He doesn’t have to worry so much that he is missing out on the world around him.
"It's done a great job with voices," he said. "I can hear weak (soft) voices much better now."
He received the implant at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) in April 2004, and was outfitted with the accompanying speech processor three months after the surgery, on June 28.
Dr. Christiansen first found out about the Maryland Hearing and Balance Center through acquaintances in his retirement community, who knew a UMMC employee. Prior to that, he had seen a couple of other doctors, but they either didn’t have Baha training or hadn’t actually performed a Baha surgery.
"I wanted to go to someone who had experience doing the surgery," said Dr. Christiansen.
Dr. Christiansen says he had a good experience with the doctors and staff at UMMC. "I was very pleased ... and I would recommend the University of Maryland to other people."