IM this article to a friend!

July 14, 2005

The sound of freedom

From: Deccan Herald, India - Jul 14, 2005

Kavita Manoj writes about a new device that holds out hope for hearing and speech-impaired children.

For a mother, there is nothing like listening to the babbling of her child. But what if the child is hearing and speech impaired. With advances in technology, these problems can easily be overcome.

Research has proved that the children with a hearing problem are speech impaired as well. But if they can hear sounds, then they would attempt to talk.

In an effort to help these children speak, Cochlear Limited has come out with the Nucleus Freedom — a system that gives the child freedom from hearing and speech impairment. Cochlear implants are a routine medical intervention for children with a hearing impairment, especially at birth. Unlike hearing aids, which merely amplify sound, a cochlear implant bypasses the damaged part of the ear and stimulates the hearing nerve directly. The device comes in two parts, one an internal device known as freedom implant — implanted behind the ear after a surgery and the other external device meant to be worn behind the ear.

The internal device is like a micro chip and has a magnet to hold the external device. It is fixed after a two and half hour operation.

After the hearing impairment is partially corrected, the external device known as speech processor is worn behind ear or can be worn on the body. This small controller houses three miniature batteries that power the processor. It is operated with a push button and includes an LCD screen that shows your settings.

In fact, the body worn device is advised for older children because the ears of younger children are much smaller.

The other features of the system include a children's indicator light which enables the clinician to know whether the processor is working alright. A lock prevents accidental changes of settings.

Mr Tushar Katria of Pika Medical, a representative of Cochlear, claims the materials used in the system are bio compatible and designed to last for over 75 years.

According to him, more than 600 people in India are using this system, of which 38 are in Karnataka. This system, which is meant for children aged between 1 and 3 years, corrects 80 per cent of the hearing disability. The cost, Mr Katria says is anywhere between Rs 5.12 lakh to nine lakh.

Three-year-old Gokul, was recently fit with a cochlear hearing aid. His father says that Gokul has been responding rather well to external sounds and adds that they would have to wait and watch for further progress. In Bangalore, this system is available in Sagar Apollo, Basavanagudi ENT Care Centre and SRC Institute of Speech and Hearing. At Mysore, the system is available at the All India Institute for Speech and Hearing.

For details contact, Pika Medicals Private Limited, 1212 Mittal towers, B wing, 6, M G Road Bangalore or on phone at 080-25594757 or log onto

Copyright 2005, The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd.