Toddler hears for the first time after having an implant fitted into her ear.
Young Margarida might have had to wait months to hear were it not for the audiologists’ ingenuity. A 18-month-old deaf girl became a pioneer after medics had to find a way around the lockdown to help her hear for the first time. Hearing experts fitted Margarida Cibrao-Roque with a cochlear implant before the coronavirus forced them to close their clinic, but a lengthy process was needed before it could be switched on.
Cochlear implants are devices placed inside the inner ear during surgery, after which patients like Margarida need time to heal. The implant then needs to be activated gradually with careful testing and adjustments. Cochlear implants need to be activated gradually with continuous testing so as to not overwhelm the child. Audiologists tracked the toddler’s reaction and data from her implant remotely.
Audiologists at the University of Southampton set up an internet link so the toddler’s device could be switched on remotely at home in Camberley, Surrey – a first in the UK. Professor Hellen Cullington said: ‘Usually we do the switch-on of a cochlear implant at our clinic at the university but, with some technical creativity and some advice from colleagues in Australia, we were able to do everything necessary over the internet.