seven-year-old Kelley Flynn, hearing means recognizing the
sound of her mother's voice and having the freedom to talk
with her friends on the telephone. Almost completely deaf
since birth, Kelley is eager to try a device that will do
the work of her damaged cochlea, the snail-shaped organ in
the middle ear that transmits sound to the brain.
Boston's Children's Hospital, Alan visits Kelley's doctor,
Margaret Kenna, as she
prepares to insert a cochlear implant into Kelley's inner
ear. The implant's 22 electrodes will do the work of Kelley's
own damaged cochlea. Kenna also places a receiver, an antenna
and a magnet beneath Kelley's scalp.
weeks laterhealed from surgeryKelley is ready
to try out her cochlear implant. Kelley wears a microphone
over one ear that sends sound to the wireless transmitter
clinging to the magnet beneath her scalp. Sounds received
by this microphone will be sent to a computer, which in turn
processes them into signals to be sent back to Kelley's cochlea.
Dr. Kenna points out the implant
that lies beneath Kelley's scalp.
a series of initial tests, Kelley's implant works well enough
for Dr. Kenna to switch the microphone on and let the outside
world in. At first, the sound of even the quiet room overwhelms
Kelley, who throws her hands over her ears with a gasp. But,
gradually, her amazement turns to joy as she taps on a drum
and plays a piano. Kelley will have years of therapy ahead
to achieve her goal of improved speech, but as her father
says, for now "it's like Christmas. Each sound is a present."
more on this topic, see the web feature: