A toddler’s smile lights up the room after hearing for the first time

A 16 month-old boy, Mohammed, has heard for the first time since birth after recently undergoing a successful cochlear implant surgery at Mediclinic Al Jowhara Hospital in Al Ain.

The young boy was diagnosed with hearing loss at birth due to a non-functioning sensory neural cell in the cochlear. From that point, and in their quest to find a suitable solution for their young child, his parents explored various options until they decided on cochlear implant surgery.

Visiting surgeon Professor Abdulrahman Hagr, Professor and Consultant ENT and President of Arab Academy of Otology and Cochlear Implant, said, “Hearing loss adversely impacts the development of speech and language skills.  My advice to all parents is to seek immediate medical attention as clinical outcomes are much higher in cases detected and treated promptly.”   Professor Hagr added, “Advanced technologies are available to detect hearing problems and their severity, which in turn help guide physicians and families towards the right treatment modality. A tailored treatment plan will not only improve communication skills, but will also contribute immensely to an improved quality of life.”

A multidisciplinary team successfully performed the surgery in under two hours. Through a small incision behind the ear, the electrodes were carefully inserted in the cochlear avoiding any trauma to the inner ear or damage to the critical nerves that are responsible for facial movements.

The cochlear implant consists of an external and internal part. The external part, which is placed behind the ear, is responsible for capturing sounds and transmitting them to the internal part of the implant. The electrodes then send electrical signals to the cochlear nerve, after which the information is sent to the brain to interpret those signals and process them as sounds and speech.

Dr.Omnya Zain, Specialist Audiovestibular Medicine at Mediclinic Al Jowhara Hospital, said post-surgery, “On the same day as the surgery, we activated the cochlear implant and adjusted the frequency of the device.  Mohammad was able to hear his mother’s voice for the first time and smiled as he began to listen to sounds.” Mohammad was able to detect even fine sounds and he can now detect direction of sounds.”

Dr. Omniya added, “We will be adjusting the frequency of the implant gradually throughout his rehabilitation programme, which will eventually allow optimal hearing.”

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