Last month, we watched a 3‑year‑old hear his father for the first time. That same child was the first in the U.S. to receive an auditory brainstem implant, thanks to the efforts of Ruth Y Litovsky, PhD, Professor, UW Division of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, and her team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Waisman Center.
According to Dr. Litovsky, this is an exciting development as there are quite a few children, and adults as well, who can’t hear without brainstem stimulation.
So, who is a candidate for such a device? Dr. Litovsky states that auditory brainstem implants are only for candidates who are deaf, but who don’t have a cochlea, or auditory nerve.
And, just exactly how does an auditory brainstem implant work? “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,” says Dr. Litovsky.
Learn more about auditory brainstem implants and watch the full interview with Dr. Litovsky on WKOW-TV here.