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April 25, 2005

Hear, hear

From: Huntington Herald Dispatch - Huntington,WV,USA - Apr 25, 2005

Cochlear implants can help deaf experience sound

By CRYSTAL QUARLES - The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON -- Shelley Neal’s 2-year-old daughter, Emily, is responding to sound like never before, ever since she received her cochlear implant about a year and a half ago.

"It’s a miracle," Shelley Neal said. "She turns and responds to sound now. She never would before."

Emily Neal, who will be 3 years old in May, was born profoundly deaf and received a cochlear implant when she was 14 months old.

The basic components of a cochlear implant include a microphone, an external signal processor, an external transmitter, an internal receiver and an electrode array implanted in the cochlea.

When her daughter first began to hear sounds and motions with the implant, Shelley Neal said every sound wasn’t pleasant to Emily, but she has since learned to cope with the device.

"She actually cried when she first got it and started hearing things," she said. "She wasn’t used to sound."

Some hearing centers have started placing bilateral cochlear implants in young children, enhancing hearing in both of their ears. The procedure has not been approved by the FDA yet, but a local doctor and some hearing centers are optimistic.

"I think they will approve it, but I haven’t seen any research that shows they are going to approve it anytime soon," said B. Joseph Touma, who specializes in potology/neurotology at the Touma Hearing and Balance Center. "If the costs comes down and it’s approved, it will be great."

Shelley Neal said since Emily -- who started

using sign language when she was 12 months old -- received the implant, she rarely uses sign language. Emily tested in the 68 percentile for normal-hearing children. She said her speech scores were low, but the Speech and Hearing Center at Marshall University is working on her articulations.

"I want her to know some sign languages because she can’t always wear her device," Shelley Neal said referring to the outside portion of the cochlear implant. "She’s deaf in the pool, bed and bath because she doesn’t wear it then."

Shelley Neal says it was no easy task teaching her daughter sounds after she received it.

"People think it’s a quick fix," Neal said. "That’s just where the work begins. You have to teach them what sound is. Point to them and tell them what it is. They don’t hear like you and I. When I talk to her, I over articulate so she can hear every sound. I can not stress therapy enough."

What to watch for

Here are some things to watch for that can signal parents that something is wrong so they can get help for their child during the time when hearing and speech development are most critical.

Birth to 4 months: Infants should be startled by sudden loud sounds and should stop moving or crying in response to a parent’s voice.

4 to 8 months: Babies should turn their eyes and head in the direction of sounds, respond to their name and babble in multiple syllables.

8 months to 1 year: Little ones should make vowel sounds, use their voice to get attention, say their first word and respond to music.

1 to 2 years: Young toddlers should point to body parts when asked, follow simple commands ("get the book"), and listen to simple stories, songs and rhymes.

2 to 5 years: Children should understand differences in meaning ("go," "stop"), follow two requests at a time and hear sounds from another room. These kids should also be able to answer simple "who, what, when, where, why" questions, pay attention to and answer simple questions about a short story.

Silent Signs of Hearing Loss

The family has a history of hearing loss in early childhood.

The child has a history of prematurity, trauma or infection.

As early as birth, the child’s head, face or ears have an unusual appearance.

By 6 months old, the child doesn’t appear to respond to auditory stimulation.

By age 1, the child seems to be developing language skills slower than his or her peers.

By age 2, the child doesn’t follow simple instructions.

SOURCE: The Center for Hearing and Speech, Houston, Texas

Copyright © 2005 The Herald-Dispatch