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Science Sunday, June 23rd 2013 at 1:00 pm

First Auditory Brainstem Implant in a Child Is the Best Thing You’ll See Today

Grayson Clamp just heard his father for the first time, and if that doesn't brighten up your day we don't know what will.

Screen Shot 2013-06-21 at 3.43.46 PM

Three-year-old Grayson Clamp was born without a cochlear nerve, meaning that he was completely deaf. He was unable to get a cochlear implant, so his parents signed him up to participate in a trial as the first child in the U.S. to have an auditory brainstem implant. Since nobody wants to read a story about a child’s brainstem implant that doesn’t work, you can probably guess how things turned out. We even have video of little Grayson hearing his first words.

The surgeons made a small incision behind the ear, removed a small piece of bone, then opened the plane between the bone and the surface of the brain. They then placed an electrode on the cochlear nucleus, which typically provides information about sounds to the brain. In Clamp’s case, there is no nerve linking this area to the brain. The electrode is connected by cable to a receiver, so that the sound doesn’t need to travel through the ear; rather, the electrode stimulates the appropriate areas in the brain.

This is obviously an amazing achievement. It also winds up being one of the sweetest videos I’ve seen in quite some time. Look at Grayson’s face just after 2:20, when he hears his father saying “Daddy loves you.”

Generally we try to provide a touch of humor in our articles, but this time, I’ve got nothing. It’s just joyful. See for yourself:

(via LaughingSquid)
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