Parents of Paranjit, who hail from Nagpur were unable to figure out why their son was unable to speak. On bringing him to Mumbai's civic-run KEM hospital, doctors confirmed that their son was deaf as hearing aids did not help either.
Dr Hetal Marfatia-Patel, professor of the ENT (Ear-Nose-Throat) department at the hospital, said, “This is the first time a bilateral cochlear implant was conducted in a BMC hospital. By bilateral, it means the implants were inserted simultaneously instead of operating on the patient twice to complete the procedure.”
“However, the implant has best results between the ages of 12 months to three years after which the child undergoes therapy for a year to speak normally and regain hearing,” added Dr Patel.
A cochlear implant is a device that electronically stimulates the hearing nerve of the cochlea (inner ear) to enable people who have severe to profound hearing loss, or nerve deafness, to eventually perceive sound.
Doctors insist that a child should be screened for hearing ability right after birth and rehabilitation, if needed, should be started as soon as possible once the infant is two to three months old.
This treatment not only helps children with congenital hearing loss but also deafness which develops after learning how to speak.
Dr Patel further emphasized that since a child’s brain develops in the initial years up to three years of age, it is important to get a cochlear implant done before the age of three. “Once the brain develops, a cochlear implant will not give speech benefit,” she said.
Speaking to MiD DAY, the boy’s father Taranjit who works with the Nagpur Flying Club said, “The operation lasted for six hours on Monday and though the implants are expensive, we received some funds through donations from the hospital and paid the rest.”
The cochlear implants cost the family 13 lakh. “We were informed by the doctors that it will take another year of therapy and treatment for him to gain the ability to hear and speak normally,” he added.
“Very few people are aware that congenital hearing impairment can easily be treated though it’s only limiting factor is the high cost. The child, however, can benefit through this procedure and hear and speak clearly after a certain time frame,” said Dr Patel.