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February 14, 2006

AIIMS doctors claim cochlear breakthrough

From: Hindu, India - Feb 14, 2006

Staff Reporter

The patient now has "an almost near normal'' hearing capacity

NEW DELHI: Doctors at the Capital's premier All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) claimed to have successfully carried out and rehabilitated the country's first bilateral cochlear implantation patient who underwent the complicated surgery to have cochlear implants fitted in both ears.

The previously hearing-impaired patient now has "an almost near normal'' hearing capacity. The patient over the past two years has undergone what is called the sequential bilateral cochlear implant (surgery of both ears) at the Institute.

After the surgeries, the patient underwent extensive rehabilitation procedures to create "a balance" that allows him to use both ears effectively to hear from all sides and at different volume levels.

Recommended for adults, an integral part of the procedure was the ``rehabilitation of the patient where he was taught to synchronise the signals that his ears are getting. He has also to be taught about how to process speech and then be able to communicate,'' said Head of Department, ENT, Prof. R.C. Deka.

The patient's right ear was operated upon in September 2003 and the left ear in 2005. Both the operations went well, said the operating doctor.

"It took us a good 4-5 months to balance the `sound waves' for the patient to allow him to hear well. The patient, a 48-year-old adult male, who after having meningitis at the age of 12 started experiencing loss of hearing and came to us recently when he realised that his hearing aids were not helping him anymore,'' said Dr. Deka.

"Hearing becomes difficult in noisy situation for the deaf who have got cochlear implant only on one side. Bilateral cochlear implant is coming up as a new concept as it imparts the deaf with almost normal ability to perceive and discriminate sounds. Especially in children, bilateral implantation is recommended as with this they can learn linguistic and communication skills faster and grow into normal productive adults,'' said Dr. Deka.

Copyright © 2006, The Hindu.