How Auditory Brainstem Implants help the deaf - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

How Auditory Brainstem Implants help the deaf

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Last month, a 3-year-old was the first child in the U.S. to receive an Auditory Brainstem Implant, but this procedure is still fairly new to the entire world.

Dr. Ruth Litovsky, with UW School of Medicine and Public Health, says Auditory Brainstem Implants are only for candidates who are deaf, but who don't have a cochlea, or auditory nerve. She said their brain should also be in good condition and able to receive the sound.

"Imagine that you have sound that normally reaches the ears, and now you have somebody who's cochlea doesn't work, the auditory nerve doesn't work, so we're providing electrical stimulation directly into the brain," Dr. Litovsky said.

Dr. Litovsky says there's a speech processor that takes speech and sends it directly to the brain.

Three-year-old Grayson Clamp was the first child in the U.S. to receive the implant. Grayson was born without nerve endings in his ear, but last month, after receiving the implant, heard for the first time. Dr. Litovsky says it's a good thing his family decided to do the procedure now, while Grayson is young.

"If you wait too long, it's much harder to take advantage of this kind of procedure," Dr. Litovsky said.

According to Dr. Litovsky, the Auditory Brainstem Implants are quite new to the world, especially the U.S.

"This is very exciting because there are quite of few children, and adults as well, who can't hear unless we can stimulate the brainstem," Dr. Litovsky said. "University of Wisconsin-Madison  has a long history of doing wonderful research in the brainstem itself and understanding how we hear sound, and so it all connects really well."

Dr. Litovsky says they still don't know how well kids who get the procedure will be able to speak as they get older.

Dr. Litovsky joined us on 27 News at 5 on Tuesday.

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