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April 19, 2005

Seven year old hears for first time

From: KOAA - Pueblo,CO,USA - Apr 19, 2005

A Colorado Springs girl heard for the first time Tuesday, thanks to surgery and an implant. "Maddie pushed us," said mom Sara Kennedy. "We were very uncertain, this is serious surgery, it changes the ear forever."

But Maddie Burkholder, with serious hearing problems since birth was adamant, even though she's only seven years old. Doctors said Maddie was the perfect candidate for a cochlear implant. Since her brain had some experience processing sound, the chance of success was higher. Even today, she was already distinguishing different voices she heard.

The implant works by electronically stimulating hair cells in the ear. Voices sound robotic, but with practice she could eventually understand 80 percent of what's said around her.

"I'm hoping she'll eventually have full benefit of her implant," said Dr. Cameron Shaw. "What we call a superstar. She'll be able to understand phone conversations with strangers and even enjoy music."

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