Pretoria - A team of Pretoria specialists implanted industry’s newest innovation in electrode design last week, the thinnest pre-curved cochlea in 12 year-old Simony Fraser’s ear, a first of its kind in the country.
This technology was recently launched worldwide and not only improves hearing, but also lasts longer.
The team implanted the HiFocus Mid-Scala Electrode in the young girl’s right ear; her partial hearing made her a perfect candidate for the smaller, thinner inner device.
Medi-Clinic Muelmed neurotologist Professor Louis Hofmeyr, who led the team of experts, explained that the device was pre-curved like the cochlea, allowing for less trauma and damage.
“Technology is getting better and smaller,” Hofmeyr said, of the device.
“The tool has been developed for precise control of the angle and speed of insertion,” he said.
The spiral device will provide patients with a broad spectrum of sound.
Simony was born with hearing loss, which was diagnosed by the time she had turned a year old. She got her first hearing aid when she was two years old.
Her mother Tinkie de Kock said that by the time she turned 10 she had lost all hearing.
“We were referred to Dr Hofmeyr, who inserted a cochlear implant last year,” her mother said.
Because she had used hearing aids all her life, the little girl has attended mainstream school and could lip-read efficiently.
Last year’s implant had restored her hearing to as near normal as possible, but the second one, De Kock said, would bring better quality and value to her life.
Simony was diagnosed with bilateral profound sensorineural hearing loss, described as having no hearing from the inner ear due to damage to the hair cells found in that area.
The new implant will give her access to hearing in both ears, allowing her to hear “in noise”, which involves picking sounds up and processing them even when in a noisy environment like school.
“It will provide her with an excellent chance of age-appropriate speech and language development,” said Hofmeyr, adding that it would help her perform better at school and provide her with the opportunity for better education, and independent employment as an adult.
“If not implanted, she could have eventually had permanent changes in the auditory cortex in the brain, which may make it impossible to benefit with a cochlear implant or any form of hearing restoration surgery in the future.”
The team involved in the rehabilitation of Simony’s hearing included specialists from the Ear Institute, audiologists, anaesthetists, surgeons, and speech therapists.
In a month she will be brought back to hospital, where her device will be turned on, and when speech therapists will work with her. - Pretoria News