Archive for hearing impaired

Hair Cell Regeneration – Myth or Reality

human ear diagramIn this month’s issue of Volta Voices, Dr. Stephen Epstein discusses the latest on the status of the fabled “hair cell regeneration” – which is the ability to restore hearing capabilities to the damaged hair cells of the inner ear. Many parents, when deciding if they should implant their child, worry that perhaps by implanting their child they are denying them the option of having their hearing restored naturally through this process.

According to Dr. Epstein, the most promising area of research is the controversial method of using stem cells to replace the destroyed tissue. Human stem cells would be most effective for this process, as they would have the greatest potential to produce normal hearing in humans. However, according to current federal regulations, human embryo stem cell research is prohibited. Therefore, research must be carried out on mice and then many tests must be conducted to see if the results are applicable to humans.

Many experts believe that even should a breakthrough be made in this field, it would take the Food and Drug Administration close to 10 years to approve the method for use in children. To wait that long and leave a child without the ability to hear would destroy the child’s ability to develop normal auditory and language skills. Therefore – the wisest choice would be to not be concerned with what future technology may bring, and jump and what is available today for your child.

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Child’s Voice of Wood Dale, Ill. in the Chicago Tribune

Our good friends at Child’s Voice School for Hearing Impaired children outside Chicago were reported on in the Chicago Tribune. In the article, Michele Wilkins, the school’s director, described how she started the school back with only a few children, and how the school has grown over the years.

Interestingly, Michele tells how the enrollment has declined over the recent past due to the increase of mainstreaming children with deafness into ordinary schools, which can be directly tied to the amazing results achieved by the use of cochlear implants.

I just edited the Wikipedia article about cochlear implants, which stated that the results of cochlear implants in children “have been mixed”. All you parents know that the cochlear implant produces amazing results, and certainly the child is better off with them than without.

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Are There Actually So Many Deaf Children?

There are various statistics that state the birth rate of hearing impaired to normal hearing children is around 3 of every 1,000 births, with one of those 3 profoundly deaf, or about 1/10 of 1% of the general population.

When doing research for our T-Shirt business, we made a startling discovery. If the numbers above are true, it would mean that approximately 33 children a day born in the U.S. are profoundly deaf. This would indicate approximately 20,000 children a year are born in the U.S. that are profoundly deaf!

When you add up all the numbers, there should be a lot more implant surgeries being performed. However, sadly, only 10-15% of all candidates ever receive a cochlear implant.

This is reflected in the WordTracker Query that I recently performed. Doing research on the words “infant hearing loss”, resulted in only 10 searches per day, with that being the most searched term of all related keywords!

The fact is that there are so many deaf born children every day in the U.S. but so little is being done for them.

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