An important part of learning to speak is being able to hear speech sounds, and Audiology staff contributed significantly to Colin’s improvement. Brain surgeries and certain chemotherapy drugs can cause hearing loss in children, sometimes resulting in hearing equivalent to that of a 70- or 80-year-old, says St. Jude audiologist Johnnie Bass, AuD.
“This isn’t your typical deficit that most kids with hearing loss experience,” Bass says. “We’ve tailored our clinic to meet the needs of patients with high-frequency hearing loss because that’s 90 percent of what our kids have.”
This type of hearing loss can be sneaky, Bass says, because children can still hear and respond, but they often miss crucial sounds like “s,” “th” and “f,” which are important in developing speech and language skills.
A recent collaboration between Bass and Ibrahim Qaddoumi, MD, of Oncology, found that children treated with the chemotherapy drug carboplatin were likely to experience hearing loss and that the hearing loss was greatest in patients who were less than 6 months old when they received the drug.
“We believe we found a higher incidence of hearing loss in part because we were more diligent about following up and screening our patients,” Qaddoumi says. Such evaluations identify children who can benefit from Audiology services.
Research collaborations, such as those between Audiology and Oncology are a priority for all disciplines in Rehabilitation Services, says Steve Morris, PhD, St. Jude Rehabilitation Services director.
“These collaborations help us to identify deficits these children may have and to seek new and better ways to help them overcome these deficits,” he says.
Abridged from Promise, Autumn 2013