Stories from our Community
A commitment to quality of life
Undergoing a total laryngectomy can be a difficult, invasive and life-changing experience. But it is quite possible to live a good life again.
“Our engineers only focus on one single thing: What can we do better?” says Henrik Helmer Hansen, Managing Director Nordics.
In fact, it is precisely that issue that has driven Atos Medical forward for over 30 years. The development takes place in close cooperation with end users themselves, the people who actually use the products in their day-to-day lives. What are the needs? The problems? What works – and what doesn’t?
“As long as there is a gap between users’ wishes, and what is actually on the market today, we will continue to fight to improve their quality of life. Innovations are the backbone of our existence,” says Mikael Melefors, Vice President Design and Development.
Users shape the future
“Atos Medical is responsive and listens to us, the users, and this means a lot to me. Although we are not that many in number, Atos Medical nonetheless continues to develop new products to improve our situation,” says Tore, a user who lives in Sweden.
Product users like Tore have been involved in testing products over the years, which includes giving feedback and taking part in Atos Medical’s internal education. “The fact that my feedback can shape product improvements gives me a sense of responsibility and enables me to share my experiences with others.”
Different products for different needs
No two people have exactly the same body, which is why Atos Medical has a wide range of assorted products.
“In addition to maintaining the highest quality of technology and functionality, we constantly work to improve the fit and feel of the products,” says Mikael Melefors, and he lists, among other things, new patches with better adhesives, different speaking valves, heat and moisture exchangers, and hands-free enabled speech aids.
“We are actually helping people to get their voice back and to be able to smell and taste again. It is incredibly motivating to work with something that can really change someone’s life,” says Mikael Melefors.
“My new voice makes me so happy”
Kikuko Kudo was laryngectomized in February 2015. She could not speak after the procedure, so she had to write messages and use gestures to communicate with others. Six months later, Kikuko had a secondary puncture that made it possible for her to use a voice prosthesis.
Being heard again
“Before the TEP, I wasn’t able to enjoy chatting with my neighbors like I used to. I couldn’t get involved in the conversation. I just had to sit there and listen. Now, with my new voice I can get involved in my neighbor’s conversation and talk to friends. It makes me so happy,” says Kikuko.
Kikuko’s neighbors have commented recently that her speaking skills are improving and that she has become easier to understand. Before the TEP, Kikuko didn’t feel like going out or go traveling, but that has changed. She feels that she has a more positive mind-set.
Nowadays, Kikuko uses Provox FreeHands FlexiVoice, and the benefit is obvious. “With my hands-free speech, I can act naturally and use both hands to make gestures”
Exploring better options
Kikuko visited Atos Medical’s office for a consultation after her recovery from surgery. The staff showed her how to put on the heat and moisture exchanger (HME), how to clean the voice prosthesis and gave her tips on tracheoesophageal speech.
Kikuko is grateful to the staff at Atos Medical because they are always happy to help her whenever she experiences problems or has any questions. Kikuko believes that it is her niece’s encounter with the Atos Medical team at the voice club that has led to her increased quality of life.
Community events bring our users together
Atos Medical supports people right after surgery, and offers continued support by hosting numerous community events that help bring end users together. At these events, peer-to-peer experiences are shared and exchanged.
The community events are rather small and intimate so that users can meet with their local Atos Medical representative and get to know other people living with a laryngectomy in their area. The conversation is often driven by what users want to talk about on any given day.
The topic at one of these sessions in August 2017 was around travel trips. The Atos Medical team provided care tips and a travel checklist, including guidance on how to prepare for travel and how to handle potential problems.
Support close at hand
Two of the couples attending the event discovered that they had lived in the same small town for most of their lives, just eight miles apart.
One of the gentlemen had undergone a total laryngectomy six years previously, and the other was only a year post surgery. As well as convincing the ‘rookie’ to wear his heat and moisture exchanger 24/7, the ‘veteran’ offered lots of great advice.
The rookie’s wife asked the group about travel after surgery because she and her husband were planning a cruise. By the end of the event, both couples had become firm friends. The wives exchanged telephone numbers and the four of them are planning to go on the cruise together!
Community events in the US
- Atos Medical hosted 900 community events in the US for end users and their caregivers in 2017.
- The events rotate through more than 100 cities within a given territory on a two-month cycle.
- Each territory sales manager averages two community events per week and there is a different theme for each two-month rotation.