On Friday, July 15, 2016 Ambassador O’Malley hosted the Creative Minds event “Wired for Sound – Treating Deafness with Cochlear Implants”. The program explored some of the new breakthroughs in cochlear implant technology and procedures.
The Irish National Cochlear Implant Program (NCIP) was established in Beaumont Hospital in 1995 by Dr. Laura Viani. This is the only center in the Republic of Ireland that offers cochlear implantation to adults and children with profound hearing loss and, since its implementation, over 950 people have received cochlear implants. In Ireland, approximately one in six adults suffers from some sort of hearing loss. The World Health Organization estimates that hearing loss will soon become one of the top ten most costly conditions in the developed world. Over 50% of cochlear implants users in Ireland are children and the clinical outcomes of the procedure are remarkable. It gives children access to sound and enables them to develop and understand speech. Since the introduction of the Newborn Hearing Screening in 2011 (which tests all babies born in Ireland), children born with hearing loss are diagnosed, referred and implanted at earlier ages which will lead to better performance outcomes.
The Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center for Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences was designed so that medical practitioners, speech-language pathologists, teachers of the deaf and hard-of-hearing, audiologists, and rehabilitation therapists could work side-by-side to meet the needs of patients. It is exactly this type of cross-specialty collaboration that has encouraged Dr. Laura Viani to establish the Viani Hearing Research (VHR) Centre, which will open next year in Beaumont Hospital. The VHR Centre will conduct world-class research in all aspects of human hearing and implantable devices through a novel combination of expertise in physiology, neuroscience, physics, microelectronics, biomaterials, signal processing, otolaryngology, audiology, clinical experience, education, health economics and health policy. In order to further research links with the United States, Dr. Viani has asked Dr. Rob Labadie from Varderbilt University to sit on the newly created board of the VHR Centre.