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July 27, 2005

New implant being used at Driscoll Childrens Hospital

From: KRIS-TV, TX - Jul 27, 2005

CORPUS CHRISTI - A 9-year-old girl from the Valley visited Driscoll Childrens Hospital Wednesday where she was able to hear sound for the first time, thanks to a new cochlear implant.

In a normal ear, sound waves enter the ear canal and strike the eardrum. Those sound waves cause the eardrum to vibrate, which cause the bones in the middle ear to move. That motion, causes fluid in that section of ear to move the hair cells. Now those hairs change the movement into electric impulses which are sent to the brain to create sound.

For someone with a cochlear implant this is how sound would be produced. This ear piece known as the speech processor captures sound and converts it into digital signals. The processor sends the digital signals to the internal implant, which you see here. The implant then converts the signals into electrical energy, through several small electrodes in the device. The electrodes stimulate the hearing nerve, bypassing damaged hair cells, the brain picks up on the signal which allow those who have the implant to hear.

Little Emily Lopez can't help but react to what she's hearing. For the first time ever she can clearly hear sounds thanks to a cochlear implant.

While the loud beeping sounds bring a smile to her face she can't help but cover her ears which are having to adjust to noise.

"Do you like it, are you happy?î asked her mother, Arlene Lopez. She said, "she's happy, she likes it." Emily who has severe sensory hearing loss is the first person in our area to get an updated version of a cochlear implant. While the testing appeared to be a success, there were some draw backs, the device didn't work like specialists had hoped.

It took several tries before Emily was able to hear sounds, but even then Emily's mother said she has faith her daughters implant will work as specialists had hoped it would. So that she doesn't have to worry about her daughters future.

"Just to have a normal life when I'm not here, that's my main concern, that way she can take care of herself,î said Lopez. For Emily who could hardly hear even with the help of a hearing aid - the sounds of beeping are like music.

"It felt really good we were really excited...really really excited." Emily will be back out at the hospital Thursday, so technicians run diagnostics on her implant and track down the source of the problem.

Online Reporter: Roxanne Carrillo

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