In a January 30, 2015 video posted on the USA Today news site, you can watch as deaf teenager Maggie Gleason hears her family’s voices for the first time in her life, thanks to an auditory brainstem implant (ABI) she received at the University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio. The video shows Maggie and family at her post-surgery follow-up appointment when the audiologist first activated and tested Maggie’s ABI device for sound.
Maggie was born without any inner ears (cochleas) on either side. Because she has hearing nerve damage and doesn’t have a cochlea in either ear, she cannot benefit from hearing aids or a cochlear implant. The ABI device, however, is designed to bypass the cochlea and deliver sound signals directly to the brainstem. For ABI users like Maggie, the sound signals may not be quite as clear as those delivered by a cochlear implant, but with support and dedicated training, it is possible for many to achieve comparable hearing benefits.
For more information about the auditory brainstem implant (ABI) and how it works, read Hearing Review’s February 18, 2015 article about a 3-year ABI clinical trial that is underway to help children born without a hearing nerve.
Sources: USA Today, People.com
Image credits: Photo courtesy of WKYC; video courtesy of USA Today