Several months ago the European Union lead the way by approving the use of a single cochlear implant for people who have lost their hearing in one ear. Single Sided Hearing Loss (SSHL) is not quite as prevalent as bilateral hearing loss but still highly significant, particularly for children.
When a child only has hearing from one side they:
- Have to work super hard to hear. This is commonly referred to hearing fatigue.
- Struggle academically because they find it difficult to hear in the classroom
- Tend to be delayed in their language development
The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration has recently given the same approval. New Zealand doesn’t have an equivalent of the TGA or the FDA (the American equivalent). We typically follow the Australians and rely on their approval.
All these organisations have approved bilateral implantation long ago and their countries have adopted bilaterals as the appropriate standard for bilateral hearing loss. Now they have moved on to updating their standard of care for people with single sided hearing loss. In New Zealand we still are trying to convince the Ministry of Health that bilateral implants are needed for children.