Major Cochlear Implant Success Story

January 27 2016,  14.08 PM IST || Pocket Press Release

Born with Severe Hearing Impairment, Living with Bilateral Cochlear Implants, Delhi Boy Makes it to Delhi University on Merit, Dreams of Qualifying IFS

The success story of the child proves that hearing impairment is no bar if appropriate technological intervention is provided to the hearing impaired at a young age

Kushagra not just excels in academics but also plays for the Hindu College football team

New Delhi, 27th January, 2016: When 18-year-old Kushagra made it to Delhi University’s Hindu College (English Hons) this year after securing 95% marks in senior secondary examination, it was the proudest day for his parents. For a child born with bilateral hearing impairment, with high quality technological help and relentless rehabilitation support, the young boy has achieved a feat, not majority of normal children are capable of.

His inspirational story proves that in today’s world of innovation and technology, hearing impairment is no bar to success. However, behind this success lies a long story of struggle, surgical interventions, relentless rehabilitation support and specialized therapy that succeeded in making him what he is today -- a role model to his peers.

When Kushagra’s hearing impairment was discovered after birth, his parents vowed that they will leave no stone unturned in ensuring him a normal life and embraced technology wholeheartedly. They travelled across the country to seek advice and help for Kushagra and met leading professionals in the field of speech and hearing.

He was first fitted with powerful hearing aids in both ears in early childhood and started speech & language therapy with effect. However this was not enough in a world with such an intense communication requirement. Relentlessly searching for better interventions for their child, the parents discovered about Cochlear Implants when Kushagra was 7 years old.

“Kushagra had been fitted with hearing aids at a very young age and had undergone speech therapy, but in cases of profound deafness, this is not enough. This is where cochlear implants have brought a revolutionary change in the field of speech and hearing. The parents had too many questions regarding this new technology called Cochlear Implants at that time. I remember spending many hours explaining the family about this latest innovation called cochlear implants and how it had helped many hearing impaired individuals learn to listen and talk.

At that point of time, it was a relatively new concept in India and there were not many families and children who were using Cochlear Implants. But after some deliberation, the parents were convinced of the turnaround this technology can bring in the life of their child and decided to go ahead with it,” says Ms Neevita Narayan, Senior Audiologist and Founder, SpHear Speech & Hearing Clinics.

Kushagra was finally implanted with his first cochlear implant at the age of 7 years and he never looked back. Recently, he underwent his second cochlear implant at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi under the supervision of Senior Consultant Surgeon, Dr Ameet Kishore. He is currently using N6 --the most recent implant in both his ears.

“When implanted inside, a cochlear implant replaces the function of the damaged inner ear or cochlea. This is a role that hearing aids, no matter, howsoever powerful cannot play. Hearing aids are capable of just amplifying sounds. When supported by good quality speech and hearing therapy, cochlear implants can help deaf children hear to much normal extent and this improves their speech as well.

Kushagra has been implanted with the latest cochlear implant technology available and it has done wonders to the boy,” says Dr Ameet Kishore, Senior Consultant Surgeon, ENT at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi & Consultant Surgeon at SpHear Speech and Hearing Clinic.

Yet, the job doesn’t end with implants, rather it begins with it. A sustained therapy to train the patient in hearing through the implant device and speaking is followed thereafter. It is a team process, involving the Cochlear Implant surgeon, the Audiologist, speech and language therapists as well as parents whose perseverance is the key to the success of the entire process.

The sustained team effort brought a remarkable turnaround in Kushagra, who went on to study with normal children at the Sriram School, Gurgaon. Kushagra's mother worked extremely hard along with speech and language professionals to make always race ahead of others.

He visits Sphear Clinic regularly to get both his Cochlear Implants Mapped & balanced so that he uses his implants optimally. Kushagra scored over 95% in his class XII (Humanities).

“Kushagra has been a miraculous child. He has always been a confident child and an exceptional student. He was also very active in extra-curricular activities in school, founding his school’s computer society as well. He loves playing piano and football. Thanks to modern day technology and rehabilitation support, his hearing impairment never became a barrier to his growth and learning. This is our greatest accomplishment as parents,” says Kushagra’s mother Mreedu Akhaury.

Kushagra was selected in many international schools for his higher studies on merit, and also booked a seat for himself in his subject of choice (English Hons) at the Hindu College. But Kushagra already has his sights on another acme. He now aspires to become an Indian diplomat through the Indian Foreign Service by competing UPSC exams. And why not? He can aspire today for any goal as any other normal teenager.

And today Kushagra also plays for the Hindu football team, and takes part in student union work. And his father (an Ex Civil Servant) is proud that Kushagra is an extremely well read (diverse and deep) person to be rarely seen at his age.

“It’s a sustained teamwork that is required to achieve such possibilities like Kushagra. The surgery, the training, the therapy and the rehabilitation has to be highly specialized and relentless. Cochlear Implants can only be converted into success if all parameters go right, as happened in this case. We are as proud for Kushagra as his parents are today,” says Ms Neevita Narayan.