FANWOOD, NJ -- Joan Rekemeir, age 39 of Fanwood, recently became the first person in New Jersey and the New York metropolitan area to receive surgery for an innovative new hearing implant for conductive hearing loss and single-sided deafness called BONEBRIDGE. The device was successfully activated for the first time on Tuesday, April 9.

In May 2015, Joan had what she chalked up to be a bad cold. However, the virus attacked her right ear and caused irreversible nerve damage, leaving her with hearing loss and distortion. She woke up one morning to find her two young sons bouncing on her bed, but their voices (and everything else) suddenly sounded robotic and distorted in her ear.

Rekemeir hoped it would get better and waited, and by the time she saw a doctor, her options were slim – neither oral steroids or a series of steroid injections in her ear drum had any effect and regular hearing aids would only amplify the distorted hearing. For years, she was resigned to living with irreparable hearing loss. But, when the inability to hear became a tougher challenge in social settings and in communicating with her kids, she returned to the ENT to discuss options.

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"I could not understand what people were saying when they spoke to me on that side. Oftentimes I heard sounds but didn't know it was a person talking to me," Rekemeir said. ""I did not think that I would ever be able to have clarity of sound again. I had resigned to the notion that this was my 'new life'. When I had my hearing test, and they blocked out the sound in my left ear, leaving me to repeat words by only using my right ear, I realized how bad my hearing was."  

Dr. Jed Kwartler, Director of Otology/Neurotology, at Summit Medical Group presented her with the option of the latest bone conduction hearing technology called the BONEBRIDGE Hearing Implant System. It is the world’s first bone conduction implant that combines the benefits of intact skin with direct drive stimulation of the bone for optimal sound and improved quality of life.

"Before I had Bonebridge, we would have to switch sides if they were trying to talk with me and walk on my 'bad side'," Rekemeir said. "I can't stress enough how much of an improvement it is to be able to clearly hear words. Without the device, everything is garbled and distorted."

This advancement represents an entirely new approach to bone conduction hearing technology, and is cleared for use in conductive and mixed hearing losses as well as single-sided deafness for candidates age 12 and older.

To see a video about how the procedure works, click here: is Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s only free daily paper. Sign up for our daily eNews and follow us on Facebook and twitter @SPF_TAP. Download the free TAPinto App for iPhone or Android.