A 10-year-old girl who lost her hearing as a toddler cried when a cochlear implant again made it possible for her to hear herself breathing.
Sammie Hicks was moved to tears after the implant made it possible for her to hear simple sounds like her steady intakes of breath, chalk on a chalkboard, and her parents’ voices.
A genetic mutation had made the Collin County, Texas resident unable to hear sounds - she slowly lost her hearing as a toddler, until her world became completely silent.
Scroll down for video
Hear's to you: Sammie Hicks, 10, jumped when the audiologist first switched on her cochlear implants, and was then moved to tears at the sound of her own breathing
Weeping: Sammie was overwhelmed by the experience - and sad about all the sounds she'd missed out on
Grinning: Sammie shows off a grin and is happy she can now hear the world around her
Like any tech-savvy pre-teen, Sammie kept a video diary of her experiences, both pre and post implant, as she emerged from a world of silence to one awash with noises and sounds of all sorts.
She said in one of her diaries that while being deaf is a handicap, it ‘doesn’t mean you can’t go and do the things you want to do like most of the other deaf people,’ she said, according to WFAA in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Prior to the implant, Sammie said in her diary that she was both ‘excited’ and ‘nervous.’
The surgery went smoothly, but nothing could prepare Sammie for what happened when the audiologist activated the implant.
The moment, captured in another video diary entry, shows Sammie leaping out of her chair, her eyes filling with tears.
Overjoyed: Sammie's parents, Ron, left, and Jen Hicks, are over the moon that their daughter is able to hear them and converse with him
Keeping track: Sammie has kept a video diary through the process
She said later: ‘I started crying because it was overwhelming. I had no idea what the sounds were.’
Her mother, Jen Hicks, told the station: ‘I can’t really put into words what it felt like hearing those little things we never thought she’d be able to hear.’
The success of these devices is all down to extraordinary scientific development which allows doctors to short circuit the damaged ear canals of deaf patients and wire a microphone directly to the brain.
The tiny implants, which can last up to 20 years, are inserted into the inner ear and wired up to the cochlea, the snail-shaped cavity that normally helps to transmit sounds to the brain, according to ABC News.
'I started crying because it was overwhelming. I had no idea what the sounds were.'
-Sammie Hicks, after her cochlear implant was switched on
In severe deafness, as in Sammie’s case, tiny hair cells lining the inner part of the cochlea, which pick up sound waves, are damaged beyond repair.
Surgeons therefore implant tiny electrodes and a receiver deep within the ear, then connect them up to a microphone worn on the outer ear, just like a hearing aid.
The procedure is still incredibly expensive – costing as much as $40,000 for the device and the implantation surgery.
And according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the implant is no magic bullet, and requires its recipient to attend rehabilitation sessions, speech therapy, and check-ups.
However, the ASHA ranks cochlear implants as one of ‘the most cost-effective medical procedures ever reported,’ citing research at the Johns Hopkins University.
Sammie’s adjusting brilliantly to a new life of sound, and has already modified the way in which she speaks. She says all of her teachers ‘sounds like a robot.’
As sound waves are picked up by the microphone, they are transmitted along a wire to a sophisticated sound processor which is worn behind the ear.
This modifies the signal according to the individual’s needs (its power, for example, can be finely adjusted) before transmitting a signal to the receiver inside the skull.
This is converted to electrical signals which are sent to electrodes to stimulate the auditory nerve, which is what enables our brain to ‘hear’ sounds.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2149613/Moment-deaf-girl-10-moved-tears-new-implant-allows-hear-breathing.html#ixzz1vu9DoCp2