AY­DEN’S JOY COMES IN SUR­ROUND SOUND

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - SA­MAN­THA HEALY

THE world is no longer a quiet place for Ay­den Mann.

On July 1, the four- year- old boy had his cochlear im­plant switched on and now loves the sound of his own voice.

Run­ning up the halls of Townsville Hos­pi­tal yesterday, the kinder­garten stu­dent screeched and smiled as he played. “He has al­ways been in­cred­i­bly ac­tive,” mum Re­becca Mann, of Ma­reeba, said. “He is also a lot louder now.”

Two chil­dren and three adults have now been fit­ted with cochlear im­plants at the hos­pi­tal, the first of many pa­tients ex­pected to ben­e­fit from the new ser­vice. Pre­vi­ously, public pa­tients had to travel to Bris­bane for the im­plant and fol­low- up vis­its.

Ay­den was one of the first ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the new Townsville ser­vice and took part in his third round of au­di­tory test­ing yesterday.

Mrs Mann said she first no­ticed Ay­den’s hear­ing prob­lems when he was about three years old. He was later di­ag­nosed with En­larged Vestibu­lar Aqueduct Syn­drome, a dis­or­der which meant the lit­tle boy had very lim­ited hear­ing.

“He had that ini­tial re­ac­tion ... of sur­prise ( when the cochlear im­plant was switched on),” Mrs Mann said. do­ing very well.”

Cochlear im­plant sur­geon Dr Shane An­der­son said there were about 10 more pa­tients go­ing through a can­di­dacy process for the im­plant.

“It’s a long, ar­du­ous process to work out who is a good can­di­date. It can take months,” he said.

“They have to be phys­i­cally and psy­cho­log­i­cally ready and that’s why we have a whole team of so­cial work­ers, psy­chi­a­trists, speech ther­a­pists and so on in­volved in the process.”

Dr An­der­son said the team had ini­tially es­ti­mated that they would con­duct 14 im­plants a year.

“We will likely sur­pass that,” he said.

“This al­lows peo­ple to open up their world.”

Au­di­ol­ogy con­sul­tant Dr Sree Aithal said pa­tients were seen weekly for the first six weeks and it took some fine- tun­ing to get the im­plant right.

She said the younger the pa­tient, the bet­ter the out­come.

Pa­tients who have pre­vi­ously trav­elled to Bris­bane are also be­ing trans­ferred to the Townsville ser­vice.

“He

is

Pic­ture: SHAE BE­PLATE

BEAU­TI­FUL NOISE: Ay­den Mann, 4, with his mum Re­becca Mann, sport­ing his cochlear im­plant.

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