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AIIMS to launch low cost device to screen kids for hearing loss

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NEW DELHI: The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS) is designing a device that detects hearing loss in children, an innovation that has the potential to avert speech, language and cognition difficulties later in life.

The mass-screening low cost tool, is to be developed by the institute with collaboration of IIT Delhi and Technological University, Munich, Germany.

Every year, around 150,000 hearing-impaired babies are born in India. Without any definitive screening system in place, the condition goes undetected. Without proper rehabilitation and intervention at an early stage, this results in speech problems.

The newest innovation – Sound4All - is a sound processor combining the most advanced sound processing technology with a discreet design. The cost of the device is around Rs 6000 and the figure could go down if it is manufactured on a large scale.

The device can be handled easily at hospitals, nursing homes and schools by nurses, teachers and supporting staff to detect hearing loss in the early stage.

Prof Suresh Sharma, HoD ENT Department, AIIMS, said, “It will a remarkable step forward in offering solutions that address an important unmet need for early detection of a child’s hearing loss.”

He said, “Identifying hearing loss at a very early age is important because children with hearing loss often fall behind their peers in speech and language development, cognitive skills and social skills.” He added that if the hearing loss isn’t treated, these deficits can lead to adult issues such as reduced socio-economic status, poor socialization skills and depression.

Prof Alok Thakar, Department of ENT and Head & Neck Surgery, AIIMS, said, “The sooner you can detect hearing loss, the better the outcome for the person with the loss. Hearing loss can occur at any age and hearing screening plays a vital role to ensure that patients can avoid communication roadblocks and potentially have a better quality of life.”

Speaking to DTMT, Prof Samarjit Chakraborty, Technological University, Munich, Germany, said, "We are thrilled to be able to offer this new technology to the millions of poor people in India living with disabling hearing loss."

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