Hearing loss in children More than three million children in the United States have some degree of hearing loss It is estimated that 1.3 million of these children are under 3 years of age Estimates show that approximately half of all cases of congenital hearing loss are genetic An additional 30% are believed to be caused by complications either during pregnancy or immediately after birth Hearing loss may also be acquired from ear infections or illnesses such as meningitis, chicken pox, measles, and more
Some types of hearing loss can be corrected surgically. These are usually instances where there is a problem with the outer or middle part of the ear. This type of hearing loss is usually temporary. Most profound or severe hearing loss is caused by “nerve deafness” – a problem with the inner ear. This usually means that the nerve fibers that send sound signals to the brain have been damaged in some way. Individuals with this type of hearing loss cannot be treated with surgery, and must instead rely on an assistive listening device, or cochlear implants.
Hearing Aids Hearing aids are the most common type of assistive listening device used by individuals with hearing loss. A hearing aid is a sound amplification device. Sound enters through a microphone, is made louder by an amplification processor, and then is sent into the ear by a small receiver. There are many different types of hearing aids. Some are small enough that they fit directly into the ear canal while others have a large section that f fits over the outside of the ear. The more severe the hearing loss, the larger the hearing aid must be to sufficiently amplify the sound.
Advantages and Disadvantages Hearing aids are significantly less expensive than a medical procedure (such as cochlear implants) The wearer has a lot of control over positioning and volume level on the device Benefits individuals with varying types and degrees of hearing loss Some types of hearing aids can be large and “bulky” They do not pick up high-frequency sounds very well Hearing aids alone do not work well in situations with a lot of background noise or when trying to listen to someone who is far away.
Frequency Modulated Systems Frequency Modulated (FM) systems are used in conjunction with hearing aids to help improve hearing by removing background noise and increasing the range from which the child can hear. A parent or teacher wears a microphone (usually at chest-level) while the child wears an FM receiver. The receiver can usually be attached directly to the hearing aid. When the parent or teacher speaks, their voice is transmitted directly to the receiver and into the child’s hearing aid, eliminated any the distraction of background noise.
Demonstration of hearing aids alone vs.FM system http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1l37lzLIgQU
Advantages and Disadvantages FM systems are very beneficial, particularly in a classroom setting They reduce background noise and improve sound volume and quality Helps the student to focus well and better understand teacher instruction FM systems can be very expensive, costing any where from $1000 to $4000 for more sophisticated models. They can only be used with one person at a time– they do not help the child better understand anyone but the individual using the microphone Teachers need to be careful about what they say to other teachers or students while wearing the microphone, as everything they say is transmitted to the FM receiver
Cochlear Implants Cochlear implants are an expensive and medically sophisticated option for individuals with very severe hearing loss or profound deafness, as hearing aids are often ineffective in these individuals. Cochlear implants are usually more effective in individuals with acquired hearing loss, though individuals who are born deaf have also benefited from this procedure Cochlear implants directly stimulate the auditory nerve, acting in place of damaged hair cells within the cochlea, a spiral-shaped portion of the inner ear that is responsible for sending sound signals to the brain.
The implant is made up of both external and internal components. Amicrophone and speech processor pick up and filter sounds, sending them toa transmitter that is held in place against the head by a surgically implantedmagnet. A receiver/stimulator inside the bone sends these sound signals toa series of electrodes which coil around through the cochlea and directlystimulate the auditory nerve, which sends the sounds to the brain.
What hearing with cochlearimplants sounds like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00WOao4kpwM
Advantages and Disadvantages Individuals with cochlear implants can better understand spoken speech, and often are able to speak better themselves as a result of this. People with cochlear implants will be able to hear much better at a distance (though FM systems may still be necessary to help filter background noise) Cochlear implants are able to benefit some individuals who have been unsuccessful with hearing aids They allow individuals to hear and distinguish higher-frequency sounds than they can with a hearing aid. As with all medical procedures, there is a risk for surgery complications. Cochlear implants are extremely expensive – Usually more than $40,000 for the procedure alone There is no personal control over the device – once implanted, it’s there for life. Sometimes, cochlear implants do not end up functioning correctly and follow-up surgery is necessary. Any residual hearing is usually lost during the procedure, meaning when the device is turned off, the patient is now completely deaf.
Who benefits from these listening devices? The vast majority of individuals who are deaf or experience hearing loss are able to benefit from either hearing aids or cochlear implants. Some benefit from both, while others only achieve results from one or another. FM systems are extremely beneficial to students who currently use hearing aids. It allows for better understanding of their lessons and can help in their academic success Not only do these sorts of technologies benefit the individual with hearing loss, but those around them benefit as well. They allow for easier communication and interaction with peers, parents, and teachers who do not experience hearing loss themselves.