Ten-year-old Kajal has not seen the world through her eyes, neither has she experienced the magic of sound so far in her life.
Kajal is both visually and hearing impaired since birth. Her parents might not be aware of the benefits of the cochlear implant surgery because had they done it within a year of her birth, there was more than 90 per cent chance that Kajal would have had no hearing problems.
However, residents can dodge a similar fate because All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Patna, would provide cochlear implant surgery from May. The facility is not available in any government or private hospitals of the state at present.
Kranti Bhavna, the assistant professor and in-charge of the ENT department of AIIMS-Patna, said: “We would start the cochlear implant surgery from May. Such a surgery would be very useful for patients with hearing problems. If it is done within two years of birth, it can show good results. There is more than 90 per cent chance that the hearing condition would improve. However, if surgery is done on a child aged between five and seven years, there is less chance of recovery than those under two years. In some cases, if a 60-year-old person suddenly suffers hearing loss, there is a possibility that his hearing could be restored through cochlear implant surgery.”
About the surgery, Bhavna said: “A cochlear implant is very different from a hearing aid. Hearing aids amplify sounds, while cochlear implant directly stimulate the auditory nerve. Signals generated by the implant are sent by way of the auditory nerve to the brain, which recognises the signals as sound. Hearing through a cochlear implant is different from normal hearing and takes time to learn or relearn. However, it allows many people to recognise warning signals, understand other sounds in the environment, and enjoy a conversation in person or by telephone. The surgery is followed by speech therapy for a year.”
On how much one would have to shell out to get the surgery done at AIIMS-Patna, she said: “At least Rs 5.5 lakh because the cheapest cochlear implant which has to be fitted in the patient’s ear costs around Rs 5.5 lakh.”