Bi-lateral Cochlear Implant Scheme to Benefit Deaf Children

James Reilly, Minister for Health recently announced that bi-lateral cochlear implants would be made available in the new HSE Service Plan 2014.

The Government is introducing a new bilateral cochlear implant service from 2014, to benefit children awaiting a second implant and simultaneous implantation for those who are born profoundly deaf from now. His health-service plan for 2014 listed €3.22 million to develop services for bilateral cochlear implants at the national cochlear implant centre in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin.

Deanna Cairns of the Happy New Ear campaign said recently:

“The programme will take time to set up but it is envisaged that the first simultaneous cochlear implant surgery, where they implant both ears at the same time, will take place in May, and the first sequential implant surgery, where the recipient already has an implant, will commence in August. We have been helped along the way by so many people- TDs, journalists, parents and well wishers and we would like to thank them all for their support throughout the campaign.”

Campaigner Deanna’s son Billy has one cochlear implant and is on the waiting list for a second implant.

Tony O’Brien, Director General of the HSE, said that around 100 children will benefit from the funding, with 50 sequential and 50 simultaneous cochlear implants to be fitted in 2014.

They are hopeful that from next year, the number of surgeries will be increased. There are thought to be around 200 children in need of a second cochlear implant at the moment.

Free hearing tests are available to all at any of Hidden Hearing 65 clinics nationwide, for more information freephone 18 00 37 00 00 or our website


New study findings: Hearing impairment ‘shrinks brain faster’

BrainWe know that as we age our brain becomes smaller but the results of a recent study from the Johns Hopkins University in Maryland now suggests that older adults who suffer from hearing loss are more likely to experience a higher level of brain shrinkage at a faster rate.

For the study, Dr. Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D., and his colleagues analyzed 126 participants aged between 56 and 86 years for up to a 10-year period. The study participants underwent yearly magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans for their brain changes to be tracked plus physical examinations, including hearing tests. At this point, 71 participants had normal hearing, while 51 had impaired hearing with a minimum loss of 25 decibels. The participants with impaired hearing also lost at least an extra cubic centimeter more of brain tissue every year, compared with those who had normal hearing.

Address hearing loss ‘sooner rather than later’

Dr.Lin says it is not surprising that these particular brain structures were affected. He explains that because people with hearing loss tend to use speech and sound less, brain structures linked to these processes are more likely to shrink due to lack of stimulation.

He also says their findings emphasize the importance of treating hearing loss as early as possible, adding: “Our results suggest that hearing loss could be another ‘hit’ on the brain in many ways.If you want to address hearing loss well, you want to do it sooner rather than later. If hearing loss is potentially contributing to these differences we’re seeing on MRI, you want to treat it before these brain structural changes take place.” Dr. Lin and his colleagues say they plan to eventually examine whether treating hearing loss early can reduce the risk of associated health problems.

You can book a hearing test free of charge at any of Hidden Hearing’s 60 clinics nationwide. Freephone 1800 882884 or visit


Gay Byrne Podcast

In a clip from ‘Sunday with Gay Byrne’ on RTE, Gay talks about becoming hard of hearing. Once his own hearing started to become defective he sought help with Hidden Hearing. Gay Byrne also became ambassador for Hidden Hearing’s Hearing Awareness Week.


Gay Byrne and Dr Nina during Hearing Awareness Week

Listen to the full podcast here.

Gay Byrne and Dr Nina during Hearing Awareness Week

Gay Byrne and Dr Nina during Hearing Awareness Week