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Three-Year-Old Finally Hears After Receiving an Implant [VIDEO]

Update Date: Jun 20, 2013 04:01 PM EDT
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The story of how three-year-old Grayson Clamp heard his father's voice for the very first time today has captured the attention and hearts of people throughout the country. The video of the voice encounter between Clamp and his father is priceless as the young toddler's face is full of shock and surprise.

Clamp was born without a cochlear nerve, which is the part that connects the brain stem to audio waves and allows the ear to hear properly. Despite technologies that have given deaf people their hearing back, such as the cochlear implant, these options did not work for Clamp. Now, at three-years-old, Clamp finally has the ability to hear after receiving an auditory brain stem implant. This surgery made Clamp the first American child to receive this type of implant. Although auditory brain stem implants have been done on adults, this technique has never been used on a child. The biggest risk of doing this surgery on a child is accidentally bruising the brain.

Once the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a trial for using these implants on children, Clamp's parents, Len and Nichole, who adopted him, jumped on the opportunity. According to Dr. Craig Buchman, who performed the implantation, the device works by stimulating the electrodes on the brain's cochlear nucleus, essentially acting as the cochlear nerve. Working in conjunction with the implanted device, Clamp has an external speech processor that has a microphone, which sends the sound frequency components to the device. The implant relies on an external battery.

"He's sound aware, but we don't know what exactly he hears," the doctor said according to CNN. "We're relying on the plasticity of [the] brain to start to sort this out."

The procedure is currently mostly done in Europe. There are only 10 approved surgeries so far in the United States.

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