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Toddler Hears Holidays for First Time

Just a few months ago, 1-year-old Mason Henoch was way behind in his ability to communicate. Wendy Henoch, Mason’s mom, said she and her husband Matt knew something was wrong, but didn’t realize how severe the problem was.

Around his first birthday, the couple took Mason to Cleveland Clinic, where he was diagnosed with severe hearing loss in both ears.

Doctors from Cleveland Clinic's Head & Neck Institute determined Mason was a candidate for cochlear implants, a series of electrodes inserted directly into the cochlea, or inner ear. The implants are a device that may restore some hearing to people with substantial hearing loss.

The auditory-verbal therapist who treated Mason, and is part of the Hearing Implant Program team, comprised of audiologists, surgeons and an auditory-visual therapist. The team recommended the surgery.

The surgery took eight hours for both ears.

"That was the real 'a-ha' moment for us, that something he had never experienced before was happening."

For the cochlear implants to work, external processors must be attached to Mason’s head and ears. The processors send a radio signal to the series of 22 electrical leads implanted in Mason’s inner ear. He then interprets these electrical impulses as sound.

"It transmits that sounds, using a radio signal to a series of 22 electrical leads that are actually in his cochlea. Over time, Mason interprets those electrical impulses as sound," says Mason's father Matt.

Two weeks after the surgery, Mason’s implants were activated. Finally, for the first time, he could experience sounds. Within just a few weeks of the activation, Mason spoke his first words.

Now Mason and his family are enjoying not just the sights, but the sounds, of the holiday season — and all the seasons to come.

"That was the real 'a-ha' moment for us, that something he had never experienced before was happening," says Wendy.

Related Institutes: Head & Neck Institute, Cleveland Clinic Children's
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