Last year, clinical researchers at the University of Southern California implanted a new auditory brainstem implant (ABI) into four children born without a hearing nerve. Now promising results have been reported last week at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in San Jose, California. Though ABIs have been implanted in children in select centers around the world, there has never been a proper study under the oversight of a regulatory watchdog. The goal of the new study is to show safety of these implants, made by an Australian company called Cochlear, in young children.
In the United States only people with a tumor caused by neurofibromatosis type II and that are 12 years or older have been approved to use auditory brainstem implants. Having the device installed in particularly young patients with a missing auditory nerve should help them learn to hear and to speak as early as possible.
Here’s three year old Angelica three months after her auditory brainstem implant was activated: