Sabine Reinfeldt, Assistant Professor in Biomedical Signals and Systems, conducts research on a new type of hearing implant, called the BCI, which is aimed to help people with hearing loss due to impaired middle ear. The technology uses so-called bone conduction, which means that vibrations in the skull bone leads sound to the inner ear, bypassing the middle ear.
Patient contact adds value
The uniqueness of the BCI is its mounting – the hearing implant is attached to the skull, and communicates wirelessly through intact skin with a small external device, attached with a magnet just behind the ear. The outer part includes the microphone, which picks up the surrounding sound.
The BCI is being tested in a clinical study, and preparations are now in progress to expand the study to additional clinics. Sabine Reinfeldt is responsible for coordinating and ensuring that the same clinical methods are being used everywhere. Together with the research group, she recently got an article accepted for publication, covering the results of the first 6 months of clinical study, with the first 6 patients. To meet with patients is inspiring, she says.
“My driving force as a scientist is to use technology to help people. It's very satisfying to be able to help patients to hear better. Hearing is incredibly important to be able to communicate and participate in social contexts”, says Sabine Reinfeldt.
Questions still to be answered
During the conversation with Sabine Reinfeldt, it appears that there are still interesting questions to answer.
“The physiology of bone conduction is complex. People have unique anatomy of their skulls and hence the sound vibrations may vary between patients. I want to know more in order to transform the knowledge into providing better hearing for more patients. Maybe we can use the technology to help new patient groups? And to improve their perception of the sound? What methods can we use to best study the patient benefit; can objective methods be developed for this purpose?”
One million SEK
Sabine Reinfeldt, who has many scientific questions to answer, and a strong driving force, has now received grants to develop her research. She has plans for how to best use the funding of one million SEK.
“The award means a lot to me and I am honored to receive it! This means that I can engage a postdoc and thereby increase the research activity. I also get the opportunity to develop my international network, through conference trips and visits to my main contacts in Holland, Germany and Canada”, she says.
She also looks forward to develop her leadership skills, as the research team expands.
Text and photo: Malin Ulfvarson
For the fourth consecutive year, the Hasselblad Foundation allocates funds to support female postdoctoral researchers in the natural sciences with a possible extension to adjacent scientific fields and life sciences. The grants total SEK 2 million for two female postdoctoral researchers of SEK 1 million each. The other recipient of 2014 is Malin Johansson, Gothenburg University.www.hasselbladfoundation.org