Friday, February 19, 2010
Medical Reports: Brain Implant For Deafness
Living in a world of complete silence can be difficult. Now surgeons are turning to a new type of implant that helps re-train the brain and open up a new world of sound. 7s Richard Lemus has details in today's Healthcast.
WSVN -- Danny Sanborn wishes he could go back to a time before his world went silent. Danny suffers from brain tumors. In order to get the tumors out, doctors had to sacrifice his auditory nerve.
Danny Sanborn: "Before I had the tumors. I had hearing, but as soon as they took the tumors out, I didn't have any."
A cochlear implant wasn't an option so surgeons put in an Auditory Brainstem Implant or ABI to restore certain sounds.
Dr. Daniel Lee: "We are bypassing the auditory nerve to directly stimulate the next level of sound processing in the brain."
Surgeons place 21 electrodes on the bundle of nerves that sit on the brain stem the lower part of the brain.
Dr. Daniel Lee: "The electrodes provide electrical current. It stimulates those nerves that are responsible for continuing a signal of sound to the rest of the brain."
A tiny microphone is positioned by the ear. It picks up sounds from the environment and digitally transmits them to a decoding chip placed under the skin. The chip stimulates the electrodes allowing the patient to hear sounds.
It doesn't restore complete hearing, but Danny's now able to hear the phone, an alarm clock and even his best friend.
Richard Lemus: "While the device can restore some hearing it can't restore a patient's balance that is damaged by the tumors."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary
Tel: (617) 573-4170