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Can My Baby Hear?

Wed, 22 Aug 2012|

-Caitlin is one of those kids whose hearing loss was identified at newborn hearing screening. -At first, she was diagnosed moderate to severe in her right and severe in her left. -There was no hearing loss in the family, but Caitlin's hearing loss was identified and the parents knew at birth that she had a severe hearing. -We did months of testing and it progressively got worse to the point where she tested profound in both ears by October. -So they came to see us when Caitlin was quite little. And the first thing we do was fit her with hearing aids because child deserves a chance to see whether hearing aids might work for them. -I pretty much knew if she got to the point where she was a candidate for a cochlear implant. We would definitely without a doubt do it. -A cochlear implant is a device that comes in 2 parts. The first part of it is implanted into the child's-- in the child or adult's head. This is the electrode and you can see the little curly cue on the end of the electrode, which goes into the cochlea and this is the magnet, which is underneath the skin. The child then has something that looks like a hearing aid that they wear behind their ear and this magnet attaches to this so the child is wearing this behind their ear and they've got the implant inside their head. -And today we're gonna be doing a cochlear implant on Caitlin Pritsker over the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary. She has already had her right side implanted about 3 months ago and now she is going to have her left ear implanted. -We've done through this before. I am a little bit nervous, but you know we know what to expect now and we're very confident in the people that we're dealing with. -Do we have a turn on day [unk]? -Yes, we do, March 25th. -Yeey! [unk] You're gonna get your second year on March 25th, the next Saturday. -99% of children with hearing loss can be helped with cochlear implant. The 1% that cannot are children who have such a severe abnormality of the inner ear that you can't really get a cochlear implant into while they don't have a nerve of hearing. -On the 25th and I'll bring [unk]. Thank you. -So, there is her implant. In order to turn it off [unk] that the series were done. They're gonna be fine, okay? -Thank you. See you a little bit. -Yeah. -It's day surgery. The surgery takes between 2 and 3 hours usually and usually the child goes home the same day. The average cost is around $50,000, but it is almost always covered by insurance. This device once implanted stays there forever. It-- We may change the stitch process, but the implant does not change. We usually make a small incision behind the ear and pull up the skin and then they dig a well right behind the ear so that the top of the implant fits into the well and this-- the part of the electrode at the end of it is threaded into the cochlea and then it is closed up this incision is found so that when it heals it is just a tiny scar right behind the child's ear. -So everything is fine. She's in recovery now, okay? It went very smooth, no problems, okay? The best part of doing this type of surgery is the impact you make on their lives where before they would be in special education school. Now, with a cochlear implant, they usually end up in a regular school with regular children, you know, normal speech and they have the same abilities to be whatever they want in life. -Once it heals, the family returns to the hearing learning center where we can teach them how to use the speech processor, what they need to do to take care of it and we can program the speech processor so that it works for the particular child. In the beginning, we see them every couple of weeks because as their brain is getting exposed to sound for the first time, their ability to listen changes by the minute. And so, we keep seeing kids every couple of weeks on an ongoing basis until we're-- they-- until they sort of simmer down and we've gotten them so that they're hearing in a pretty steady state. -It's pretty easy. She does not try to take it off at all. It's held magnetically on. There's a magnet inside the internal piece and the external piece has a magnet. She has a microphone on here and the maintenance-- batteries are rechargeable. It's a body worn processor at this age because behind the ear units are very heavy and too bulky for the babies to wear. As far as these kids are concerned, it sounds like it sounds to you and me. -No. The people who've had hearing losses who had normal hearing and then lost hearing as they got older say it doesn't sound exactly like it sounded in the old days, but it sounds very much well enough so they can understand speech, they can talk on the telephone, and they can live their lives hearing. -I would definitely advice you especially-- to talk to other people who are in the same situation or professionals who know who to guide you to. If you're unsure of anything, ask any question. No question is dumb. The internet is a great resource also. -I mean, there's almost no child that we can't say this child can be anything he wants to be because we have technology now that really opens up the world to children with hearing loss. -I have no doubt that she is gonna be just like us, but I'm-- that this-- It certainly is not gonna hold her back from anything. But if anything, maybe she'll become more proactive because of it and get out there in the community or the world and let them know what she can do and, you know, as they born deaf and this is what you can do as an adult because she has, you know, 2 cochlear implants. -Thank you for watching Parents TV, our families our lives.