Two funded im­plants ‘fan­tas­tic’

Central Leader - - NEWS -

A mother is thrilled more chil­dren with hear­ing prob­lems will have ac­cess to the same pro­ce­dure that helped her daugh­ter.

From July, chil­dren un­der 6 with pro­found hear­ing loss will get two gov­ern­ment­funded cochlear im­plants rather than just one, Health Min­is­ter Tony Ryall has an­nounced.

The par­ents of Fin­ley Tu­taka-Brown, 4, de­cided cochlear im­plants were the right choice for their daugh­ter when tests showed she was pro­foundly deaf.

Her fam­ily had to raise more than $45,000 for a sec­ond im­plant.

The Mt Al­bert fam­ily shared their story in the Cen­tral Leader last Septem­ber.

The im­plants have made a huge dif­fer­ence, mum Kerri Tu­taka-Brown says.

‘‘The big­gest change has been in the last six months; now she’s in­ter­act­ing more with other kids. Be­fore she was a very soli­tary per­son but now she’s full of life.’’

She says the fund­ing will take a huge pres­sure away from par­ents who would have had to fundraise for the sec­ond im­plant.

Fam­i­lies who have funded a sec­ond im­plant for their child will have free fol­low-up ser­vices, such as re­pairs, spare bat­ter­ies and re­place­ment speech pro­ces­sors.

‘‘It’s fan­tas­tic. It’s a huge re­lief for us not hav­ing to worry about the cost of re­pairs and parts be­cause they’re all re­ally ex­pen­sive and it’s amaz­ing that more kids will now be able to have two ears as well.’’

An ex­tra $6.3 mil­lion is to be spent over four years on the bi­lat­eral cochlear im­plants pro­gramme for chil­dren, Ryall says.

Un­der the present pol­icy chil­dren with se­vere to pro­found hear­ing loss in both ears re­ceive one funded cochlear im­plant but from July they will get two.

Chil­dren un­der 6 with one im­plant will be of­fered a sec­ond, funded im­plant.

In­ter­na­tional ev­i­dence sug­gests a sec­ond im­plant is less ef­fec­tive and less tol­er­ated by older chil­dren who have used a sin­gle im­plant for a long pe­riod, the Health Min­istry says.

A one-off $1.1m fund­ing boost is also hoped to re­duce the wait­ing list for adults.

An­nu­ally about 86 people A cochlear im­plant is a med­i­cal de­vice con­sist­ing of in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal parts de­signed to by­pass dam­aged hair cells in the in­ner ear and di­rectly stim­u­late the au­di­tory nerve.

The brain in­ter­prets this stim­u­la­tion as sound. It can al­low se­verely or pro­foundly deaf people who get lit­tle or no ben­e­fit from hear­ing aids ac­cess to sound.

Ac­cess to sound can help chil­dren de­velop spo­ken lan­guage. have cochlear im­plants which in­cludes up to 16 in­fants, 30 chil­dren aged from 2 to 18 years and 40 adults.

Great lis­tener: Kerri Tu­taka-Brown says her daugh­ter Fin­ley, 4, was trans­formed af­ter be­ing in­tro­duced to the hear­ing world last year.

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