About Sickkids
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December 17, 2012

'I can hear in both ears!'

Use of innovative device is Canadian first

“Awesome!”

Andrea Crowley shared a special moment with her dad, her physician, and her audiologist on December 14. For the first time in years she could hear in her left ear as well as her right ear, thanks to an innovative hearing device that was activated at 1.30 p.m.

SickKids patient Andrea Crowley, aged 14, has her innovative, bone-anchored hearing device activated for the first time.
SickKids patient Andrea Crowley, aged 14, has her innovative, bone-anchored hearing device activated for the first time.

 

It’s a first for Canada as well as for Andrea, aged 14. The bone-anchored hearing device is already in use in Europe and the US, but the Peterborough teen is the first person to receive it in Canada.

Andrea lost the hearing in her left ear due to a benign growth in her middle ear for which she was treated by SickKids’ Dr. Blake Papsin. “People with hearing loss in one ear compensate as best they can by turning their head and trying to position their good ear toward conversation and music. It’s like living in a shadow. It’s awkward socially and often requires special consideration at school,” he says. When Dr. Papsin suggested that Andrea consider the Sophono device, she was keen to try it.

In November the small magnetic component was implanted in her skull just three inches behind her ear. On December 14 the small external sound processor was placed on her head, comfortably held in place by the magnet on the implanted component. It transmits sound directly into her skull.

When audiologist Lora Carinci activated the device, Andrea laughed with delight. “I can hear on both sides!” she exclaimed to her beaming father. Within minutes she was texting the happy news to friends and family.

Until now there has not been an effective therapy to offer children with hearing loss in one ear, says Dr. Papsin.  The device offers flexibility as the external component can be easily removed for swimming and sleeping.

Andrea was the first in the world to receive an upgraded version of the Sophono Alpha 2 device.

“Single-sided hearing loss in children is not unusual, but with this device we are close to restoring hearing one hundred per cent with an approach that is discrete, easy to use, and flexible,” says Dr. Papsin, who is a Staff Otolaryngologist at SickKids and Professor of Otolaryngology at University of Toronto.