Some of the factors that pose a high risk for hearing impairments among children are the same risks that a child with cerebral palsy will develop such as congenital infection, oxygen impairment, jaundice, and low birth weight among many others. This is why hearing impairment is more common to children with cerebral palsy as compared to the general population. Recent clinical studies showed that approximately fifteen percent of children diagnosed with cerebral palsy suffer from one form of hearing impairment or another. Basically, hearing impairments are categorized in to two major types which include, conductive and sensorineural.
Conductive and Sensorineural Hearing Impairment
Conductive hearing impairment means that the impairment is basically in the middle or outer ear which prevents the sound from reaching the auditory nerve. Sensorineural hearing impairment on the other hand refers to the damage on the auditory nerve that prevents the brain from receiving and processing the correct signals. In rare cases, there are patients with cerebral palsy that seem to have both types of hearing impairment which is known as mixed hearing loss.
When the child with cerebral palsy is diagnosed with sensorineural hearing impairment, he or she may still have the potential to recover and restore part of his or her hearing. There are various recommendations that can help facilitate recovery for those with sensorineural hearing impairment. One needs to make sure that a visual or tangible clue goes along with every sound presented to the child in order to stimulate hearing. Providing toys that create sound and vibration can be very helpful in stimulating the brain. Placing the hands of the child on top of a speaker will also allow them to feel the vibration giving their brain the clue as to the source of the sound which can stimulate the brain to process the sound source.
If the child fails to respond to sounds, the earlier the hearing problem is diagnosed, the better it will be for him. There are several types of tests that can be performed such as behavioral audiogram to diagnose hearing impairments. Other types of techniques play audiometry and visual reinforced audiometry which can also help assist in diagnosing the problem. Young infants who are not responsive with sounds can also be tested for hearing impairment using auditory evoked latency that will measure the lowest sound level that will produce brain waves in the child with cerebral palsy. This type of test will evaluate if the child can actually perceive sounds by sending signals to the brain. The only thing it cannot evaluate is the aspect of how the brain will process the signal.
If the child has cerebral palsy, both types of hearing impairment may be present. An examination by a qualified and well experienced pediatric audiologist can help in measuring the extent of the impairment and find out if the hearing is still recoverable. As long as the damage is not on the actual structure of the auditory system, there is a big chance that the hearing problem can be corrected.
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