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March 12, 2007

Gift improves boy's ability to hear, speak

From: Reno Gazette Journal - Reno,NV,USA - Mar 12, 2007


For Christmas, Sean Hofmeister received a memorable gift that allowed him to be able to hear and speak more clearly.

Sean, a sixth-grader at Mamie Towles Elementary School in Reno, was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome and had trouble hearing due to bone conduction problems.

Sean, 11, wore hearing aids but began hearing and speaking more clearly in December when he was fitted with a Bone Anchored Hearing Aid hearing implant system.

"It's going to help my speech," Sean said. "It (the old hearing device) hurt my head."

Staci Hofmeister, Sean's mother, said she's noticed remarkable improvements in Sean.

"We have heard his speech clarify. It used to be kind of slurrish," Staci Hofmeister said. "This gave him surround sound.

"He used to have a speaker on his desk and a microphone to the teacher and doesn't need it anymore."

The new implant is digital and allows users to block out background noise so they can concentrate on conversations with people, Staci Hofmeister said.

More than 25,000 people use the BAHA system worldwide. While it helped Sean to overcome his birth defect, the system also is used for people with single-sided deafness.

The system is manufactured by Entific Medical Systems, a Swedish company owned by Cochlear Limited that built the Nucleus Cochlear implant, an electronic device that helps to provide a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard-of-hearing.

The implant consists of an external portion behind the ear and a second portion surgically placed under the skin, according to the National Institutes of Health.

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