Health Watch -- A New World

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Two little boys recently had their ears opened to a whole new world of sound.

Texas twins Hunter and Haydn Corker are one year old and just heard their first sounds, thanks to an amazing technology that can restore hearing. Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas performed surgery to give the boys cochlear implants earlier this year, making them one of the youngest sets of twins in the nation to have the procedure done. Now the implants have been turned on so the boys can experience sound.

A cochlear implant directly stimulates the auditory nerve, bypassing the outer, middle and inner ear. The device has two parts, one that is surgically implanted in the inner ear and an external headset and speech processor. It enables people who are deaf or who have profound hearing loss to hear almost normally.

Because the Corker twins are so young, they have the chance to develop language skills on a timetable that's not all that different from their peers who were born with normal hearing. The earlier a child is diagnosed with hearing problems and treated, the greater the chances are of the child having normal cognitive and language development. The boys will have intensive speech, language and hearing therapy at the Callier Center for Communications Disorders of The University of Texas at Dallas.

In addition to being able to communicate, people with cochlear implants are able to hear a variety of everyday sounds the rest of us take for granted, like doorbells, phones and fire engine sirens.

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