For over 16% of families the choice is obvious – Two ears are better than one. An ever growing number of families are choosing to raise funds to pay for a second Cochlear Implant. They recognise that giving their child the ability to undertake binaural sound processing is important. Binaural sound processing is what allows people with two ears to pick the direction a sound is coming from and listen to a single voice in amongst background noise. For children being able to hear the direction of an oncoming truck is a big safety issue. Likewise being able to pick out and listen to a teacher or classmate’s voice in a noisy classroom is vital to fulfilling their learning potential.
Families with a child with a Cochlear Implant commit to hours of home-based therapy, therapy appointments and audiology appointments. In the first year alone there are at least eight audiology appointments, which for most families involve traveling to either Auckland or Christchurch. Therapy can take in excess of 10 hours a week. And then there is all the interaction with different therapy service providers. Life for families with a child with a Cochlear Implant is busy and energy sapping.
For many families the thought of adding fundraising the $50k needed for a second Cochlear Implant on top of this already huge workload is daunting. But imagine having two children in your family with Cochlear Implants.
For six families in New Zealand this is their reality. They would love to be able to give their two children a second ear each but it is just “in the too hard basket”. For most families the thought of raising $50k is a step too far. Imagine being faced with a $100k target.
Unfortunately the ability for children to develop directional hearing and binaural sound processing diminishes over time. A recent study out of Tel Aviv University showed that one aspect of binaural sound processing was not able to be developed if there was a six year gap between receiving a first and second Cochlear Implant. Most countries now recommend two Cochlear Implants be implanted during the same operation to ensure all the benefits are gained, to reduce the cost and to reduce the number of surgeries.
The cost savings of implanting at the same time are substantial. There is at least a $15,000 saving in surgical, travel and therapy costs per child. There is also a reduction in the amount of therapy that would need to be repeated for a later implant. And there is a jump in the speed at which children with two Cochlear Implants catch up with their normal hearing peers.
You can help these six families by sending a link to this article to your local MP or other contacts you may have. You can also watch the “Fund-raising Families” section of this site and support those families who are really pushing themselves to give their children the absolutely best possible start to life – 2 ears.