Hearing impairment is something that is difficult to handle by anybody, much more by children. Single-sided deafness, also known as profound unilateral sensorineural hearing loss, is a hearing impairment affecting only one ear. Although the patient thinks he or she can hear, he or she is basically impaired and is missing some details of what s going on the environment.
In children, the incidence of single-side deafness is between 0.1 and 3%. This impairment is often associated with learning difficulties, poor school performance, behavioural problems, and inability to deal with noisy conditions.
Traditional treatment for single-sided deafness is the use of external hearing aids which help impaired children hear and perform better in school. However, they can also be a source of annoyance and embarrassment outside the school environment and can interfere with a child’s physical activities.
Researchers at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock have been testing a new hearing aid, a surgically implanted device that is anchored to the skull bone. Bone-anchored hearing aids are implanted behind the ear and transmit sound into the ear using conductive technology.
In the study, 23 children aged 6 to 19 have received one of two types of implant. Surgical implantation was performed in two stages six months apart. The recipients were closely followed up for effectiveness and complications.
The results showed improved hearing, performance, and compliance after surgical implantation.
Some complications were reported, including skin reactions and loss of fixtures and were more common among the older patients (teens) and than the younger ones.
According to the researchers
“In conclusion, the treatment of children and teenagers with profound unilateral sensorineural hearing loss has been frustrating owing to the known disability associated with this condition and to a lack of acceptance and benefit of traditional amplification techniques. These findings are helpful in counseling children 5 years and older and their families regarding treatment options for single-sided deafness.”
Bone-anchored hearing aids (BAHAs) are becoming more and more popular. Last year, a bone-anchored hearing aid was introduced which even allowed direct plug in of an MP3 player or a mobile! Currently, the main barrier to widespread use of BAHAs is the price which goes up to several thousands. However, the implants can supposedly last for 15 years.
In conclusion, the use of bone-anchored hearing devices has a great potential as a long-lasting hearing aid for children with hearing impairment. Instead of feeling embarrassed about having such an aid, some kids might find it even “cool” to have such a high-tech gadget.