Researchers Test Device That Lets Deaf Children Hear For The First Time

WASHINGTON (AP) — At age 3, Angelica Lopez is helping to break a sound barrier for deaf children.

Born without working auditory nerves, she can detect sounds for the first time — and start to mimic them — after undergoing brain surgery to implant a device that bypasses missing wiring in her inner ears. Angelica is one of a small number of U.S. children who are testing what’s called an auditory brainstem implant, or ABI. The device goes beyond cochlear implants that have brought hearing to many deaf children but that don’t work for tots who lack their hearing nerve.

When the ABI is first turned on, “she isn’t going to be hearing like a 3-year-old. She’ll be hearing like a newborn,” audiologist Laurie Eisenberg of the University of Southern California tells parents. She outlined the research Friday at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The children don’t magically understand and use those sounds. “It’s going to take a lot of work,” Eisenberg cautioned.

Angelica cried when her ABI first was switched on, scared by the sounds. But five months later, her mother says the youngster uses sign language to identify some sounds — that was a cough, that’s —> Read More Here


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