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December 27, 2002

Prosthetic Ear Plus New Technology Restores Hearing

From: WMAQ-TV, IL - 27 Dec 2002

Aurora Boy Snaps New Ear On, Overcomes Birth Defect

CHICAGO -- Miguel Morano, 8, looked different from other children because he was born with just one ear. He also heard sounds differently, as a result. But now, through a mixture of high technology and artistic modelmaking, Morano has two ears and can hear from both sides of his head.

Morano's missing right ear was due to a birth defect, so a normal hearing aid could not help him. But he needed to hear from both sides to perform better in school, audiologist Robert Battista said.

"It's very important, especially for younger children," Battista said. "Having stereo hearing gives you the ability to hear background noise in classrooms, which tend to be very noisy."

Battista restored Morano's stereo hearing by first implanting titanium posts in the skull to anchor a new type of hearing aid and a prosthetic ear.

Now, when Morano snaps the ear on, the hearing aid can bypass his missing middle ear and send sound directly to his inner ear.

"It vibrates the bone or the skull," Battista explained. "For instance, if you were to tap on your skull, you could hear that sound in your ears."

Prosthetics artist Susan Habakuk took the next step at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and copied Miguel's other ear perfectly. Thanks to the new titanium posts, Morano does not have to worry about the new ear falling off.

"Historically, prostheses have been glued on with a skin adhesive," Habakuk said. "And it was always unreliable as to how long it would stay on. The integrated implants help ensure that it will stay on. We have one patient who skydives with it."

Morano's new ear is a big hit at school.

"Before, I didn't look like everyone else," Morano said. "But now I do."

And what did his classmates say when they saw it?

"That's cool!" they said, according to Morano.

Another big benefit for Morano is that with stereo hearing, now he can tell where sound is coming from. That is very important for his safety when it comes to emergency sounds or traffic.

Copyright 2002 by All rights reserved.