Children believed unlikely to benefit from routine cochlear implants now have the option of auditory brainstem implants (ABIs), some years behind cochlear implants in testing terms.
Several reports on ABIs featured in the online press recently:
ABIs were available outside the US since 2005 but in the US got given only to children over twelve, whereas global research showed earlier hearing to maxmise their prospects.
Researchers at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC) are tracking very young children with ABIs, predicting phone contact to be viable later in life.
Read: Brainstem implant surgery aims for kids to hear and talk (video)
Following family therapy, the mother of the three-year-old girl in this video has said,
It’s just so awesome to hear her little voice (with the ABI).
Surgeons and ENT consultants say the ABI surgery involves ‘going into a deep area of the brain‘, about whose workings scientists are still gathering information and sharing research.
A 14 year old girl in Ohio was recently reported as possibly the first teen to receive and benefit from an ABI, after being born without cochleae and with additional health issues.
Read: Teen hears with her brain, not her ears (video)
ABIs bypass a person’s ear structure and send sound straight from a speech processor (like that for a routine cochlear implant) straight to the auditory nerve in their brainstem.