Child Wellness: Cochlear implants
About two out of 2,000 children are born profoundly deaf. Marcie Fraser takes a closer look how a cochlear implant can improve a patient’s hearing.
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After coming to terms with the fact her first daughter was deaf, the family learned sign language. She did have a 25 percent chance that her next two daughters would be deaf, and they were.
Until her oldest daughter persistently asked to hear, did she consider cochlear implant.
"A cochlear implant an electronic device that provide electronic stimulation to the nerves of inner ear," said Dr. David Foyt, a neurotologist.
Her oldest at age 13 had surgery. A device was implanted, which connects to an external hearing aid that signals to the inner ear and the person can begin to hear for the first time, which can be scary.
"The first initial response is crying. It's a surprise since they never heard before don't know what to do with it," said Dr. Foyt.
"At first when you put it on you can't hear anything because your brain hasn't developed with it yet. So, all I was hearing is beeps like sounds, pounding in my head. It hurt," explained Carolena Mariconti, cochlear implant patient.
"After having the implants all connected and turned on she was writing with a pencil and she stopped and said 'What's that sound mom?' And I had no idea what she was talking about, so finally, I identified it and she's like 'That's my pencil? I didn't know pencils made a noise,'” said her mother, Lisa Mariconti.
It was such a success, all three girls had the implant.
Once the devices are implanted, after-care may last years. An audiologist makes adjustments to the hearing aid, determining how electrical stimulation the person needs to hear is critical.
"There are little bands that are different pitches. The electrode on the cochlear implant is broken into those pitch bands. So we need to determine how much electrical current is needed for that individual to perceive sound on each individual electrode,” said Dr. Sharon Rende, an audiologist.