Helping children to reach their full potential.

Spotlight on Single-Sided Deafness Research

Research plays a critical role at Hear and Say, helping us bridge the gap between science and better hearing outcomes for people affected by any type of hearing loss.

One of our recent projects specifically looked into the benefits of cochlear implants for children with hearing loss in only one ear, which is known as unilateral or single-sided deafness.

Left untreated, single-sided deafness can significantly impact a child’s development, listening and learning. It also reduces the ability to identify the location of a sound source or person speaking, particularly with background noise.

This is because additional effort is needed by children with single-sided deafness to be able to hear and localise sounds, which results in what’s known as listening or auditory fatigue. For students in classrooms, this means they’re then required to put in a lot of effort just to hear what the teacher says, before they can even start learning.

Cochlear implants have become a viable treatment option for single-sided deafness, as other hearing technologies such as conventional hearing aids or bone conduction devices typically offer little or no benefit and don’t allow true hearing through both ears.

Fifteen-year-old Dylan has experienced this firsthand, receiving a cochlear implant after facing a sudden onset of profound hearing loss  in his left ear. In just three months after his left cochlear implant, Dylan saw noticeable improvement in his ability to localise sounds on his left side, and an improved ability to understand speech in noise.

“Since getting my cochlear implant, I’m able to tell where sounds are coming from, especially if someone is talking to me whilst they are on my left side or behind me. I can hear better even if it’s really noisy around me,” said Dylan.

Hear and Say audiologist and the study’s key researcher, Sharon Bruna said the outcomes added to a growing body of evidence clearly demonstrating the benefits of cochlear implants as an option for children with single-sided deafness.

“This research project is very exciting because it helps to show that children who receive a cochlear implant for single-sided deafness saw significant improvements in their day-to-day hearing abilities, which are maintained over time,” said Sharon.

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Maia’s Story

At 9.10pm on 24 October 2013 our beautiful daughter Maia was born. 

The moment of elation was short-lived as we immediately noticed her left ear was missing. I frantically looked to the medical team around me for answers but received none.

Panic set in as we waited 4 days in hospital for an ENT to explain her condition, by which point we already had all the answers from Simone, who runs the Microtia and Atresia Program at Hear and Say.

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