They sang, they danced and the children in the audience clapped enthusiastically. What is special about this “celebration” at the auditorium of the Lady Ridgeway Hospital (LRH) for Children was that it was a celebration of hearing.
Where earlier there had been silence and isolation, now there was sound and laughter. Where there had been doubts and mistrust whether it will work and work successfully at a government hospital, there was absolute trust.
|A celebration of sound: Some of the young recipients
perform an item.
The celebration of hearing was held after the completion of 25 cochlear implant surgeries between November 2008 and June 2011 at the LRH by the Department of Ear, Nose and Throat & Audiology headed by Dr. A.D.K.S.N. Yasawardene.
It was also fitting that the chief guest was Health Ministry Secretary Dr. Ravindra Ruberu who had been the pioneer ENT Surgeon to perform the first cochlear implant surgery in the private sector in 2005.
At that time it had been Rs. 2.5 million and there had been challenges in collecting money to do this surgery in the state sector, MediScene learns.
But that is history now and with J.M. Wickramarachchi & Co., of Nugegoda bringing back this revolutionary idea from Australia, the LRH had stepped into this ear-opening surgery with conviction and vigour. This company which is the sole agent for cochlear implants manufactured by the Cochlear Company of Australia, has supported LRH’s Cochlear Implantation Programme by donating a special surgical drill system and other essential items to the Department of ENT & Audiology.
Deafness isolates people, rather than any other disability, stressed Consultant ENT Surgeon Dr. Yasawardene explaining that we get connected to society through hearing.
Describing the ear and its functions before delving into cochlear implant surgery, Dr. Yasawardene says that sound travels along the ear canal to the eardrum, making it vibrate. These vibrations, in turn, cause the three small bones behind the eardrum – the hammer, the anvil, and the stirrup which get their names from their shapes – to vibrate as well. Passing through an oval window to the cochlea which contains nerve endings, these vibrations are then picked up by nerve fibres linked to the brain.
The cochlea, MediScene learns, is a coiled tube filled with liquid.
|Dr. Ravindra Ruberu
The first part of the tube (Base) vibrates for High-pitched sounds and further up, the Apex for Low-pitched sounds, according to Dr. Yasawardene.
Therefore, if there is a problem with the cochlea, points out this ENT Surgeon, then that person has a hearing impairment or deafness.
This is when we implant a medical device (cochlear implant) into the deaf child’s head behind the ear, to facilitate hearing. The cochlear implant electrically stimulates the nerve endings inside the cochlea to achieve the sensation of sound.
The ‘bionic ear’ has changed the lives of deaf children, MediScene understands, not only giving them hope but also integrating them into the world around them which is full of sound.