Stories about: cochlear implant

Cochlear implants click for Isabelle

Isabella-IVFive-year-old Isabelle Labriola loves sound. She eagerly chats with her twin sister, loves to sing along to holiday songs and enjoys dancing to music. Sounds click with Isabelle, even though enlarged vestibular aqueducts (the tiny canals in the inner ear) resulted in moderate-to-severe hearing loss in her right ear and severe-to-profound hearing loss in her left ear.

Isabelle’s hearing loss was identified at birth, and she was fitted with hearing aids at 6 weeks of age. Cheryl Edwards, AuD, interim director of Diagnostic Audiology in the Department of Otolaryngology and Communication Enhancement at Boston Children’s Hospital, provided testing and hearing aid management every few months. Results of these periodic hearing tests showed the hearing loss was progressing.

By 2 years, Isabelle lost hearing in her left ear to the point where the left hearing aid no longer helped. She managed remarkably well and developed good speech skills with a single hearing aid in the right ear until 4 years of age, says her mother Vicki Labriola.

“We started to see progressive hearing loss in her right ear,” says Vicki. Isabelle’s otolaryngologist, Greg Licameli, MD, director of Boston Children’s Cochlear Implant Program, together with her care team suggested that Vicki and her husband, Jason, consider cochlear implants for Isabelle, because it was likely that she would lose all hearing in the right ear. She would then be deaf in both ears.

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For very young, cochlear implants can make a huge impact

Discovering that your child is deaf can be overwhelming—how will his language skills develop? How do you communicate? One increasingly common option is a cochlear implant. Between an external speech processor (roughly the size of a hearing aid) and an internal receiver (surgically implanted in a child’s inner ear), a cochlear implant can provide a child with the sensation of hearing. With 97 percent of deaf children born to hearing parents, this surgery can be life changing for the whole family.

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