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January 25, 2005

Free helpline to help restore hearing faculty

From: Chandigarh Newsline - Chandigarh,India - Jan 25, 2005


Express News Service

Chandigarh, January 24: AIMING at reaching out to the estimated 2 million hearing impaired children in the country, Cochlear Limited, an Australian company, launched a helpline called 'Cochlear Touch Point' to facilitate better understanding of the new age hearing aid which involves implanting a bio-compatible hearing aid in the patient's inner ear.

Company officials said the free helpline would help patients obtain information on the treatment/hearing options available to children with severe to profound hearing loss.

Apart from this, the helpline will also help patients contact specialists around the country associated with the company.

Highlighting the difference between the choclear implant and a conventional hearing aid, Cochlear Implants Clinical Specialist Neevita Narayan explained that normal hearing aids merely amplify the residual hearing in the user, while the implant facilitates normal hearing in individuals with damaged inner ear.

She claimed that unlike the conventional external aid, Cochlear implants facilitate 100 per cent hearing.

''It is better if the implant is done when a child is still learning to speak since clear hearing would mean a clear speech pattern as well,'' said Narayan. The technology is available for the adults as well.

But Narayan explains it is better suited to those who were hearing impaired after being linguistically able than those adults who were impaired from birth.

Of the 50,000 recipients of the treatment globally, 25,000 have been children. In India around 500 children have been benefitted by the implants, company officials said.

However, the state of the art implant comes at a high price. While the basicmost model costs a whopping Rs 5,12,000, the latest make goes up to Rs 9 lakh.

Therefore, this allows patients to go in for only one implant. The cochlear multi-channel implant has been developed by Professor Greame Clark of the University of Melbourne.

The device is said to replicate the hearing function of the ear by providing simulation to the auditory nerve. The hearing device includes an implant and an external speech processor. The latter works with external batteries.

© 2004: Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd. All rights reserved throughout the world.