Brainstem Implant Allows Deaf Child to Hear

As part of a national study investigating the effectiveness and safety of auditory brainstem implants in children, a 3 year old child was recently able to register sound for the first time.

A team of scientists and surgeons from Keck School Medicine of USC, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Huntington Medical Research Institute (HMRI) were recently able to provide a 3 year old deaf child with what is likely the greatest gift he has received in his young life. Following a risky operation, Auguste Majkowski’s parents breathed a sigh of relief as their son reacted to sound for the first time.

This impressive feat, a dream the Majkowski family had long hoped would become a reality, was achieved thanks to an innovative device known as an auditory brainstem implant (ABI). Auguste is one of ten recipients of an ABI as part of a National Institute of Health sponsored clinical trial grant intended to study the effectiveness of the device for use in children under the age of five. The study, lasting five years, will collect information on the surgery, device activation and behavior of participants.

Auditory Brainstem Implant Surgery

Surgeons spent more than six hours in the operation room to provide Auguste Majkowski with an auditory brainstem implant. Doctors made an incision by the boy’s right ear and removed his failed cochlear implant before implanting the ABI device.

Auditory Brainstem Implant Surgery

Surgeons spent more than six hours in the operation room to provide Auguste Majkowski with an auditory brainstem implant. Doctors made an incision by the boy’s right ear and removed his failed cochlear implant before implanting the ABI device.

Auditory Brainstem Implant Surgery

Surgeons spent more than six hours in the operation room to provide Auguste Majkowski with an auditory brainstem implant. Doctors made an incision by the boy’s right ear and removed his failed cochlear implant before implanting the ABI device.

Auditory Brainstem Implant Surgery

Surgeons spent more than six hours in the operation room to provide Auguste Majkowski with an auditory brainstem implant. Doctors made an incision by the boy’s right ear and removed his failed cochlear implant before implanting the ABI device.

Brainstem Implant Provides Alternative to Cochlear

Families across the nation with deaf children who cannot be helped by more common means are eagerly anticipating the results. Auguste Majkowski has been deaf since birth. Doctor’s first attempt at medical intervention failed when he underwent a bilateral cochlear implant at 22 months. One of the most common surgical interventions for deaf people, roughly 28,000 children in the United States are able to hear thanks to the use of a cochlear implant. Auguste’s parents expected their child to add to that number. However, that plan had to be abandoned when surgeons tragically discovered that Auguste did not have a cochlea, the nerve which the device stimulates to allow users to hear. Fewer than 1% of the estimated 28 million deaf people in the United States have a missing or damaged auditory nerve.

Unsure of where to turn next, the Majkowski family’s hope was again sparked by the promising results of ABIs internationally. Surgeons outside of the United States have been performing ABI surgeries in children for ten years and in adults since the 1970s. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been hesitant to allow the device, which directly stimulates neurons at the brainstem, to be used in children due to a lack of information supporting their effectiveness and safety. Researchers were initially turned down before the FDA finally approved a study on ABI use in young children.

Auditory Brainstem Implant

The auditory brainstem implant uses technology similar to that of the cochlear implant, but instead of electrical stimulation being used to stimulate the cochlea nerve, it is used to stimulate the brainstem of the recipient.

Auditory Brainstem Implant

The auditory brainstem implant uses technology similar to that of the cochlear implant, but instead of electrical stimulation being used to stimulate the cochlea nerve, it is used to stimulate the brainstem of the recipient.

Auditory Brainstem Implant

The auditory brainstem implant uses technology similar to that of the cochlear implant, but instead of electrical stimulation being used to stimulate the cochlea nerve, it is used to stimulate the brainstem of the recipient.

Auditory Brainstem Implant

The auditory brainstem implant uses technology similar to that of the cochlear implant, but instead of electrical stimulation being used to stimulate the cochlea nerve, it is used to stimulate the brainstem of the recipient.

To qualify for participation, patients must show that standard treatment has been ineffective. The goal is to establish safety and efficacy protocols for the surgery and subsequent behavioral mapping procedures that doctors in the United States can later use pending approval for treatment of children. Researchers also plan to study how the brain develops over time as it incorporates sound and speech.

This news is encouraging to the families of deaf children who previously had nowhere to turn if a cochlear implant could not treat their child. With other participants already showing remarkable improvements in hearing, it is likely that ABIs will soon provide relief to deaf children across the United States.

Auditory Brainstem Implant: Angela Lopez

Three-year-old Angelica, who was born deaf, shows promising progress toward hearing three months after her auditory brainstem implant was activated at the USC-CHLA Center for Childhood Communication. Angelica is participating in a National Institutes of Health-funded clinical trial at USC (U01DC013031).

Auditory Brainstem Implant: Angela Lopez

Three-year-old Angelica, who was born deaf, shows promising progress toward hearing three months after her auditory brainstem implant was activated at the USC-CHLA Center for Childhood Communication. Angelica is participating in a National Institutes of Health-funded clinical trial at USC (U01DC013031).
Auditory Brainstem Implant: Angela Lopez

Three-year-old Angelica, who was born deaf, shows promising progress toward hearing three months after her auditory brainstem implant was activated at the USC-CHLA Center for Childhood Communication. Angelica is participating in a National Institutes of Health-funded clinical trial at USC (U01DC013031).
Auditory Brainstem Implant:
Angela Lopez

Three-year-old Angelica, who was born deaf, shows promising progress toward hearing three months after her auditory brainstem implant was activated at the USC-CHLA Center for Childhood Communication. Angelica is participating in a National Institutes of Health-funded clinical trial at USC (U01DC013031).

Related Links

The Michelson Medical Research Foundation is a proud supporter of the University of Southern California and the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience thanks to the generous support of Gary Karlin Michelson, M.D. and his wife, Alya Michelson.

The Michelson Medical Research Foundation is a proud supporter of the University of Southern California and the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience thanks to the generous support of Gary Karlin Michelson, M.D. and his wife, Alya Michelson.

The Michelson Medical Research Foundation is a proud supporter of the University of Southern California and the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience thanks to the generous support of Gary Karlin Michelson, M.D. and his wife, Alya Michelson.

The Michelson Medical Research Foundation is a proud supporter of the University of Southern California and the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience thanks to the generous support of Gary Karlin Michelson, M.D. and his wife, Alya Michelson.