Cochlear implant improves her hearing ability

Today at the age of six, she is going to a mainstream CBSE school and has been promoted to Class 2. Her parents beaming proudly say that she is at par with any normal child.

Vijayashree's parents first noticed that there was something wrong with their daughter, when she was six months old. "It was Deepavali and there were firecrackers bursting around our house. In spite of the loud sounds, Vijayashree was fast asleep. That's when we realised there was something wrong," said her father Vivekanandan.

He said that at that time they were in Chennai and he took her to an ENT specialist there. However, he got a transfer to Bangalore around that time. Vivekanandan then approached Manipal Hospital, where after a series of examinations, she underwent cochlear implant in her right ear. She was one-and-half-years-old then.

However, implant was just one part of the solution. "She had to undergo speech and hearing rehabilitation. We struggled for nearly two years and then started seeing improvement in her," said Vivekanandan, who has two other daughters, older to Vijayashree.

In spite of visiting the doctor every year to tune the hearing aid, her father is planning on put an implant in her other ear too.

According to Dr Girish Rai, consultant ENT, Manipal Hospital, Vijayashree was fortunate to have been detected early. "Early detection is very important for the child to be able to develop social skills," he said. As a result, it was essential to do hearing screening for all newborn children within a week or 10 days. In fact, children falling under high risk category should be tested at the earliest.

He added that the ideal age of performing the implant was one-and-a-half to two years, as the child could then attend preschool and would learn to communicate and hear. The child also has the advantage of picking up language fast.

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