HOUSTON - From hearing aids to years of therapy at The Center for Hearing and Speech in Houston, 14-year-old Breanna felt like she tried it all.
The Houston teen, who was diagnosed with “moderate to severe” hearing loss as a baby, has heard nothing but muffled sounds, and her hearing continued to worsen over time.
But last month, she tested out a cochlear implant in her left ear – and she heard something clearly for the first time that immediately brought her to tears: her mother’s voice.
“Can you hear my voice?” her mother asked.
“Yes,” a smiling Breanna replied.
Seconds later, her anxious giggles dissolved into sobs.
It was an emotional moment for everyone, including the staff who has worked with Breanna and her family for years.
“Getting to see her hearing sounds better than she ever has before, getting to see that emotion – the happiness – is just so special,” Kelsey Gross, senior marketing manager at The Center for Hearing and Speech, told CBS News.
Without the implant, Breanna wouldn’t even be able to hear a bell sound clearly. Now, she’s able to access a wider range of speech sounds she couldn’t hear at all before.
“She had that emotional reaction because she’s hearing her mom’s voice in a different way than she has before,” Gross explained. “It’s a totally different kind of perception that she’s able to experience.”
Since Breanna’s hearing had gotten worse over the years, audiologists at the center felt she was a good candidate for a cochlear implant.
The implant is a small electronic device that stimulates the auditory nerve, bypassing part of the inner ear that isn’t working properly to help patients hear sounds.
So far, it looks like the implant was successful.
For the first three months after her cochlear implant is turned on, Breanna will see an audiologist and speech therapist at the center every couple of weeks, Gross said.
That team will then determine if her right ear is a good candidate as well, and how she would work with having two cochlear implants.
Witnessing Breanna’s transformation over the past month has been so special, Gross said.
“It really puts into perspective what we do here at the Center for Hearing and Speech and our mission – to help children with hearing loss reach their full potential,” she said.
Breanna said hearing others' voices sounds normal now, with the exception of her own voice.
"Well, it was weird that I heard my own voice." she said. "It sounds like normal, but sounds like a robot."
Breanna attends junior high in Deer Park and hopes to one day teach at the hearing center that has given her so much.
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