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Mind & Body

Hearing Clearly Through a Cochlear® Implant

Dr. Brad LeBert and Teddy Dean

by Robin Barton

Twelve-year-old Teddy Dean of Lake Charles—first introduced to Southwest Louisiana through a KPLC segment with Britney Glaser—has severe hearing loss as the result of a birth defect connected to Down syndrome. His speech was difficult to understand and he didn’t use much sign language - which often made understanding his needs a challenge. He would point to things he wanted or his mom, Suzy Borel, and brother, John Lonsberry, would use process of elimination to determine what it was that he was asking for. Doctors compared Teddy’s hearing to a muffled, underwater distortion. A Cochlear device was expected to give Teddy a world of sounds for the first time. Because of the type of hearing impairment, Teddy was a perfect candidate for the Cochlear Baha System, using his own body to conduct sound. Cochlear invented the world’s first multi-channel cochlear implant more than 35 years ago. Today, they have three unique treatment systems to reverse the different types of hearing loss: The Cochlear Nucleus Hybrid Implant System, The Cochlear Nucleus System, and The Cochlear Baha System. The four types of hearing loss are: sensorineural, conductive, mixed, and single-sided deafness. The degree of hearing loss can range from mild (difficulty hearing a soft-spoken person or children) to profound (not hearing something as large as an airplane). From the moderately severe to the profound stages speech is inaudible without hearing aids. The Baha System by Cochlear was the world’s first bone conduction implant developed by Dr. Anders Tjellström and his team of experts. It has

opened up a whole new world of hearing to those suffering from conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss and single-sided deafness. This technology has helped change the lives of more than 120,000 people world-wide. Dr. Brad LeBert, with ENT & Allergy Clinic, and affiliate of Imperial Health, and member of the medical staff of Lake Area Medical Center, performed the surgery that was the first step to Teddy hearing clearly for the first time. “Teddy has a deformity in his middle ear space that did not allow sound to go from the outside world to the inside world appropriately,” said Dr. LeBert. “The way that the Baha works is there’s a small abutment that is actually implanted into the bone of the skull. The key component to it is something called osteointegration and basically it’s the idea that the screw and the bone heal and fuse together as one.” Teddy has a small abutment coming out of the skin where a processor clips. “That processor consists of a microphone that takes sound and turns it into vibrations that causes that small screw that’s implanted into the skull to vibrate,” said Dr. LeBert. “So it actually directly stimulates the nerve

of hearing itself using vibrations.” The procedure of implanting the abutment into the skull and attaching the processor to the implant is a two-week process. After the abutment is implanted it takes about two weeks for the incision site to heal and for the swelling to go down to allow room for the processor to be attached and turned on. Dr. LeBert explains the process in steps, “First, the sound processor picks up sound vibrations from the environment. Then, sound vibrations are transferred through an abutment to the small implant inserted in the bone behind the ear. Finally, the sound vibrations are sent directly through the bone to the inner ear, the cochlea, where they are converted into electrical impulses by tiny hair cells inside the cochlea. These impulses travel to the brain, allowing you to perceive sound naturally.” The last part of Teddy’s journey, after the surgery


MUSCULOSKELETAL SYMPOSIUM Saturday, October 17, 2015 • 7:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m. Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino • Lake Charles,


An integrated educational program for physician and physician extenders in the areas of family practice, pediatrics, internal medicine, occupational medicine, sports medicine, physical therapy, nursing and athletic trainers. Specialists from individual fields will speak on all aspects of musculoskeletal medicine. For more information, call 337-312-8291 or register online at Same-day registration is also available at the event. 62

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