Cochlear Implant Surgery in India – Boon to hearing impaired people because #HearingMatters
Imagine a world without sound, no chirping of birds, no sound of flowing water, or no whistle of a cool breeze! How does it feel? Awkward, right? Now imagine a world without car-horns, crackers, honking, shouting and annoying voices. How does it feel? Heavenly, right? Now imagine a person who is born without the ability to hear and is unable to listen to both the pleasant and the annoying sounds. It does make a huge difference to that person, doesn’t it? The importance of listening can only be understood by the person who is hearing-impaired. What if I say you that Cochlear implant surgery can be boon to hearing impaired children or people who have profound sound loss. Thanks to Cochlear India for making me aware of this.
Recently I got a chance to meet a brave, optimist and a very talented 11-year-old boy who was born with profound hearing loss. Currently studying in Class 6th at the Balmohan Vidyamandir, Divyesh Indulkar now lives like a normal child, and show his talent to the world like any other child. Thanks to the unilateral Cochlear implant surgery he underwent at the age of 1.8 years at Hinduja Hospital by Dr. Milind Kirtane .
Divyesh’s parents who too were hearing-impaired from birth had a gut feeling that he too might be afflicted with hearing loss. And as fate would have it, their worst nightmares turned out to be true. After 5 months of Divyesh’s birth, his parents realized that he too was born with the hearing-impaired condition, since he was unable to respond to any of the sounds around him. All hell broke loose on Divyesh’s parents as the very thought of seeing their beloved son tread the same path like theirs gave them sleepless nights. The pain of seeing Divyesh go to a school for the hearing-impaired and communicating in sign language with others seemed like a repeat telecast of what they had been through all their lives.
There’s a saying, ‘Not all superhero wear capes’, so in such a situation Divyesh’s maternal aunt Chitra aka the superhero of the house, who had seen her sister her entire life without uttering a word, decided that Divyesh would not endure the same path like her sister. Therefore, she took him to a paediatrician to get him treated, after which certain tests were recommended. The tests revealed that Divyesh had profound hearing loss. Chitra was then educated about Cochlear Implant surgery at Hinduja hospital and how Cochlear implantees lead a normal life after the implantation. Divyesh was operated at the age of 1.8 and after 1.5 years of continuous therapy Divyesh was able to distinguish between the sound of a falling glass and the sound of a falling spoon. This was when the doctors started his speech therapy thereby enabling him to communicate. Divyesh loves to call himself ‘Shivba’ since he was born on Shiv-Jayanti.
Everything written above may seem to be simple for some people but Divyesh’s family had to go through tremors of financial and psychological setbacks every time they saw Divyesh not performing inspite of the effective therapy. But nature always pays of if you do hardwork to achieve something. In this case her aunt and Divyesh’s maternal grandparents stood up like giant tree to make Divyesh live normal life. It was Divyesh positive attitude right from birth to accept what comes to him.
Unlike his parents, Divyesh was lucky to get an implant at a very early age and now lives life-like a normal child. Divyesh is now a master at playing the Tabla and that’s been possible only because of the Cochlear Implant surgery. Is it a miracle or an irony of life? I don’t know! Such is Divyesh’s optimism that he dreams of becoming a pilot. He also does a lot of mono acts and dramas on stage. He loves to dance and has been featured in many Marathi ads and has also hosted many live shows at schools for the hearing impaired.
After seeing his family, I feel that we need to make other people aware of Cochlear Implants and its importance for hearing-impaired people. Many people take life as it is gifted to them, and don’t want to change for better. I have seen many cases where parents didn’t bother to take their children for the therapy sessions even after a successful cochlear implant. Therapy sessions are an important part of the Cochlear Implant as both go hand-in-hand. Avoiding therapy sessions post the implant would leave the child with speech disorder. The pain of seeing one’s child go through all the stress is a psychological setback for every parent but one must always remember that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
“Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.” by Jack Ma, Co-founder, Alibaba Group
A Cochlear Implant does the work of a human ear, but what teaches the child to speak and comprehend are the exercise and practice sessions with the therapist. Cochlear Implant is a boon to the soundless world.
Factors responsible for hearing loss:
- Family history
- Premature birth
- Infections during pregnancy
- Lack of oxygen at the time of birth
- Listen to audio at high levels
- Head or ear injury
- Measles, meningitis, mumps or ear infections
- High blood pressure
Who can get a Cochlear Implant?
- People or children who have moderate to high profound sensorineural hearing loss (more than 50% hearing loss to 100% loss)
- Cases where hearing aids are no longer helpful.
In cases with congenital hearing loss, early intervention is advised, especially for kids below 10 years as most of the brain development happens by the age of 10. Kids learn early and that’s why an early intervention with a Cochlear Implant is beneficial for a child’s growth.
Understanding what a Cochlear Implant is –
Cochlear Implant is an electronic device which is used for medical purpose that does the work of damaged parts of the inner ear (cochlea) to provide sound signals to the brain. It’s not a normal hearing aid that amplifies sound. Instead Cochlear Implants bypasses the damaged hair cells of the cochlea to provide sound signals to the brain.
How does a Cochlear Implant works?
- A sound processor (for instance, the Nucleus 6 processor that Divyesh wears) worn behind the ear captures sounds and turns into digital sound code. The sound processor has a battery that gives power to the entire system and is easy to charge and clean as per your need.
- The sound processor then transmits the digitally coded sound through the coil on outside of your head to the implant that’s surgically placed just below it, on the outside of the skull.
- The Cochlear Implant transform the coded sound of digit into electrical impulses and transfer to the electrode array which is fixed in the cochlea.
- The implant electrode stimulates the hearing nerve which then sends the impulses to the brain where they are converted into sound.
Facts and stats related to Cochlear implant surgery
A recent survey by WHO shows that over 466 million people live with disabling hearing loss. Hearing loss can be avoided and its impact reduced. Unless action is taken by 2030 there will be nearly 630 million people with disabling hearing loss and the figure could soar up to 900 million by 2050, which means, that nearly one in every ten people will have hearing loss. In India Neonatal tests or Newborn screening is given very less importance, which leads to late detection of newborn defects. As a parent, its difficult to accept that your child can be born with defects. But faster you accept , early you can start its treatment. This is exactly why it’s important to educate people about cochlear implants and raise awareness about disabling hearing loss.
Watch Cochlear’s™ Global Hearing Ambassador, Brett Lee, talk about how a cochlear implant surgery changes lives for good:
Explore more about Cochlear Implants: http://www.cochlear.com/wps/wcm/connect/in/home/discover/cochlear-implants