US 3346704 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Oct. 10, 1967 J. L. MAHONEY 3,346,704
MEANS FOR AIDING HEARING- Filed Dec 27, 1963 2 Sheets$heet 1 I N VEN TOR.
JACK L. MAHONEY ATTORNEYS Oct. 10, 1967 J. L. MAHONEY 3,34
' MEANS FOR AIDING HEARING Filed Dec. 27, 1963 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 SKIN (POSTERIJOR TO AURICLE) MICROPHONE TUBE (In AMPLIFIER UNIT (IO) SPEAKER TUBE (l2) MIDDLE EAR cAvrrv Roum: wmoow oucr TO COCHLEA INVENTOR. F/g. 3 JACK L. MAHONEY I BY EZQE W ATTORNEYS United States Patent 3,346,704 MEANS FOR AIDING HEARING- Jack L. Mahoney, Box 276, Rte. 2, Carmel, Calif. 93921 Filed Dec. 27, 1963, Ser. No. 333,858 1 Claim. (Cl. 179-107) This invention relates generally to hearing aids, but has reference more particularly to a hearing aid which is completely enclosed within the head of the individual utilizing the hearing aid.
Hearing aids which are presently available on the market are usually worn outside of the body, and are therefore objectionable from an esthetic, cosmetic, or functional viewpoint.
Although attempts have been made to utilize such hearing aids in a manner to conceal them from view, as, for example, within the temples of spectacles, it is virtually impossible to conceal certain portions of the hearing aid, such as wires, etc., and for this reason, many persons Whose hearing facilities can be improved do not avail themselves of such aids.
The present invention has as its primary object the provision of an audio implant in the nature of a miniaturized system for amplifying sound, which is placed directly in the structure of the ear and utilizes the impaired or damaged, but still functioning, normal channels for transmission of sound to the brain.
Another object of the invention is to provide an implant of the character described, which is disposed in its entirety within the head structure of the user, and is entirely concealed from view, thereby eliminating any and all objections to its use from an esthetic or cosmetic point of view.
A further object of the invention is to provide an implant of the character described, utilizing a battery which is enclosed with the head structure.
Other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent in the course of the following description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein FIG. 1 is a vertical cross-sectional View of a portion of a human head taken through the right side of the head and passing through the mastoid antrum and middle ear, and showing the components of the audio implant of the present invention in position;
FIG. 2 is a fragmentary elevational view showing a portion of the right side of the head, and with the external ear pulled forwardly to show or indicate where the implant and microphone tube are placed, and
FIG. 3 is a tabulation of the means utilizing the implant of the present invention, whereby sound is transmitted to the temporal lobe of the brain, where the sound is heard.
Referring more particularly to the drawings, an understanding of FIG. 1 can be gained if the observer can imagine he is inside the head of the person depicted in FIG. 1, and is looking outwardly and through the right ear.
The observer will see the auditory canal 1, the tympanic membrane 2, the malleus 3, the incus 4, and the mastoid antrum 5. The tip of the mastoid is indicated by reference numeral 6, the chorda tympani by reference numeral 7, a facial nerve by reference numeral 8, and the squama by reference numeral 9.
Normal hearing in an individual is accomplished by the help of the external ear, which concentrates the sonorous vibrations of the air upon the tympanic membrane, causing the latter to vibrate. The chain of bones in the middle ear, namely the malleus, incus, and stapes, transmits these vibrations to the internal ear, where, wholly or chiefly through the hair cells in the organ of corti, they stimulate the fibers of the auditory nerve, which then carries the sound impulses to the temporal lobe of the brain.
In accordance with my invention, I provide a hearing improvement device which 1 term an audio implant, and which consists of several components, including mainly a microphone, a battery, an amplifying system, and a speaker, such as are found in a conventional hearing aid. These components are encased in a silicone rubber sponge with a hardened coat of silicone rubber to form a unit, designated by reference numeral 10 in FIGS. 1 and 2.
The unit 10 is rectangular in shape, measuring approximately 1 cm. X 1 cm., and a few millimeters in thickness, and is provided with a silicone rubber tube 11 extending centrally from one end of the unit 10, and a similar tube 12 extending centrally from one side of the unit It). The tubes 11 and 12 are approximately 1 /2 cm. in length, and approximately 2 mm. in diameter. The tube 11, which I term the microphone tube, is attached to the microphone within the unit 16, and both ends of the tube are sealed with a very thin membrane of silicone rubber. The tube 12, which I term the speaker tube, is attached to the speaker within the unit 10, and both ends of this tube are sealed with a very thin membrane of silicone rubber.
When the device is to be implanted, an endaural incision is made just in front of the auricular appendage of the external ear, in the skin of the anatomical area of the ear. This incision is approximately three centimeters in length, and is carried out under local anesthesia. The bony structure overlying the body of the mastoid is exposed, and an area of bone, i.e., an area of approximately two square centimeters, is removed down to the antrum cell of the mastoid. A few of the air cells of the mastoid are then removed to enlarge the antrum cell to accommodate the unit 10.
The unit 10 is then placed directly into this space in the manner shown in FIG. 1, and the speaker tube is then placed in a passageway which extends from the antrum cell of the mastoid into the middle ear space behind the ear drum. More specifically, the speaker tube is brought up through a small opening near the introitus of the ear canal, and to a point closely adjacent to what is commonly referred to as the round window. The wave motion is transmitted to the cochlea, which starts the electrical impulses to the temporal lobe of the brain.
The microphone tube 11 is then extended externally from the antrum cell of the mastoid and is covered with skin and will be disposed just beneath the skin behind the ear. The incision is then closed, and the ear again completely sealed. Since the skin incision is made in a hidden area in front of the ear, no noticeable scar will be produced, after healing.
Referring to FIG. 3 of the drawing, it is seen that through the use of the hearing aid of this invention, sound vibrations are transmitted through the skin, posterior to the auricle, hence to the microphone tube 11, amplifier unit 10, speaker tube 12, middle ear cavity, round window, and duct to cochlea, thence in the normal manner to the temporal lobe of the brain.
The battery within the unit 10 is preferably a silvercadmium battery and can be charged by a magnetic induction coil which is attached to a head band, which can be worn on the head while sleeping, or at any other time which is convenient. The induction coil is connected to a wire which leads to a transistorized charging unit which is energized from a conventional electrical outlet. In charging the "battery, the induction coil on the head band is placed directly over the main structure of the mastoid.
The implant will function for approximately eight days before it becomes necessary to recharge such a battery with the magnetic induction coil. Recharging of the battery requires approximately six hours.
One of the advantages of the use of such an implant is that it is embedded solidly in the bone of the skull, and is so situated that it can drive the sound directly into the inner ear, without the necessity of driving the sound through the tympanic membrane, which offers considerable resistance to transmission of sound in cases of conductive deafness where the oval window and stapes are fused by abnormal bone closure called otosclerosis.
Another advantage is that there are no parts which are disposed externally of the head or are visible, so that objections to use of the device, based on psychological factors, and cosmetic viewpoints, are eliminated.
A further advantage lies in the fact that the replacement batteries, and its attendant costs, are eliminated.
A still further advantage resides in the elimination of the rushing and clothing noise which is a constant source of annoyance to individuals from movement across the microphones of hearing aids which are carried about the body.
The device is also of particular advantage for children who require the use of a hearing aid to hear sulficiently to carry on their school work, While finding it necessary to remove these aids during play and physical activity since external hearing aids and devices are easily dislodged or broken during such play or physical activity.
It is thus seen that I have provided a means of aiding hearing of individuals whose hearing is not remediable medically or surgically, but who require amplification of sound for hearing.
It is also seen that I have provided an audio implant in the nature of a miniaturized system for amplifying sound, which is placed directly in the sturcture of the ear and utilizes the impaired or damaged, but still functional, normal channels for transmission of sound to the brain.
It is further seen that I have provided an implant which is disposed in its entirety within the head structure of the user, and is entirely concealed from view, thereby eliminating any and all objections to its use from an esthetic or cosmetic point of view.
It will be understood that various changes may be made in the details of the invention, as described, Without departing from the spirit of the invention, or the scope of the appended claim.
An aid for hearing comprising a sound receiving and amplifying unit completely encased and sealed within a covering material which is neutral to the tissues of the human body, and is adapted to be implanted Within the mastoid antrum of the body, said unit comprising a microphone, a battery, an amplifying system, and a speaker; a microphone tube extending from the microphone within said unit to a point beneath the skin and behind the ear of the wearer of the implant, said tube consisting of a material which is neutral to the tissues of the human body, and which is completely concealed by said skin; and a speaker tube extending from the speaker within said unit through the mastoid antrum and into the middle ear space behind the ear drum, said speaker tube also consisting of a material which is neutral to the tissues of the human body.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,995,633 8/1961 Puharich et al. 179107 3,054,397 9/1962 Benziger 1282 3,156,787 11/1964 Puharich et al. 179107 3,170,993 2/1965 Puharich et a1. 179107 3,195,540 7/1965 Waller 128422 3,209,081 9/1965 Ducote et al 179-107 OTHER REFERENCES Senning: Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, vol. 38, No. 5, p. 639, November 1959.
KATHLEEN H. CLAFFY, Primary Examiner.
DR. SIMON BRODER, Examiner.
A. MCGILL, Assistant Examiner.