40 Years of Bone Conduction Hearing

​About 40 years ago, Mona Andersson in Gothenburg got the chance to live a new hearing life. She became one of three patients who received a new kind of hearing aid, anchored via a skin penetrating titanium screw to the skull bone. This was the starting point for a unique collaboration between Chalmers and Sahlgrenska University Hospital.​​

bone conduction hearing
​Bo Håkansson, Mona Andersson and Anders Tjellström – the engineer, the patient and the medical doctor – are the three pioneers behind the bone anchored hearing aid, BAHA. Their collaboration began in the late 1970s, and so far their efforts have contributed to help more than 300 000 people to better hearing.​​​​ Photo: Yvonne Jonsson​​

Today, nearly 300 000 people worldwide have been able to improve their quality of life thanks to the bone anchored hearing aid, BAHA. The main reason behind the success is the innovative technical solution, combined with the ability to unite research and entrepreneurship.
In connection to the anniversary, the ‘BAHA pioneers’ reunited – the patient Mona Andersson, the medical doctor Anders Tjellström and the engineer Bo Håkansson. Their collaboration started in the late 1970s, and they have many memories and stories to share about how the bone anchored hearing aid went from a prototype to a worldwide success.

Mona Andersson visiting Bo Håkansson’s laboratory at Chalmers in the late 1970s. (Picture to the left, from Chalmers archives)

Bone anchored hearing aids are suitable for patients who have some form of mechanical hearing impairment in the outer or middle ear. The hearing aid utilizes the ability of bone to transmit vibrations in the body, thus creating an alternative path for the sound to travel to the inner ear, via bone instead of air.
“Initially, there were a lot of people, both in academia and in industry, who were hesitant about the benefits of the technology and gave us the advice to devote ourselves to something else”, Bo Håkansson says. “However, we were convinced that the idea had a future, and eventually we succeeded in gaining acceptance for it.”
It took almost 15 years before the healthcare system began to use hearing aids based on bone conduction attached to the done directly. Since then the Gothenburg region has become somewhat of a center for companies engaged in that kind of hearing products.
The diagnosis of dizziness is another promising research area where the bone conduction technology also can be used. Bo Håkansson and his research colleagues at Chalmers have developed a new type of bone conduction transducer to make diagnoses more accurate in a way that is also more comfortable for the patient. Dizziness and problems related to the balance organs affect about half of all over 65 years.So, the development of bone conduction seems to have a bright future as well…