Clinics & Programs
Pediatric Audiology Services
Our Pediatric Hearing Center staff works with families to diagnose hearing loss in children. With more than 30 years’ experience and state-of-the-art technology, our audiologists and ear, nose and throat specialists help families understand how hearing loss affects a child's development and recommends available treatment options.
The impact of hearing loss on a child's development depends on the severity and type of loss. Our experts educate families about the impact of hearing loss on speech, language and listening skills. Depending on the type and extent of hearing loss, we will recommend the most appropriate treatment option:
- Digital hearing aids: Hearing aids are used to treat the majority of pediatric hearing losses. A hearing aid works by amplifying sound in the frequency range where hearing loss is present. Our audiologists work with families to determine the most appropriate style of hearing aid for your child's needs.
- Bone-anchored hearing system: A bone-anchored hearing system transmits sound to the inner ear through bone conduction, bypassing the outer and middle ear. This is most appropriate for children with hearing loss caused by a structural issue in the middle ear, or for those with significant hearing loss in only one ear. Our team members work with families to determine if a surgical or non-surgical bone-anchored device is the best option.
- Cochlear implants: A cochlear implant is a device for patients with severe to profound hearing loss who do not adequately benefit from hearing aids. The implant, composed of an external sound processor and an internal receiver stimulator, transmits sound past damaged hearing nerve endings in the inner ear. Many studies, including those conducted at our Pediatric Hearing Center, confirm the positive effects of cochlear implantation, which can allow a child born deaf to reach age-appropriate speech and language milestones, especially when implanted early and engaged in intervention work with highly qualified listening and spoken language therapists.
ECHO staff brings many years of experience to cochlear implant candidates and their families. In 1987, Michael Novak, MD, was the first surgeon in Illinois to perform pediatric cochlear implant surgery, and the ECHO program was involved in the initial FDA trials that demonstrated the safety and benefits of cochlear implantation in children.
The cochlear implant team partners with the family to determine if the cochlear implant is the best treatment, and continues to work with the family to maximize speech language and auditory outcomes.
How cochlear implants work
A cochlear implant consists of two components: the internal receiver/stimulator and the external speech processor. The receiver/stimulator is implanted under the skin behind the ear, with an electrode array surgically inserted into the cochlea. The speech processor, worn over the ear, is a small microcomputer that receives sound from a microphone and transmits the signal to the receiver/stimulator. The auditory nerve in the cochlea receives the signal and sends it to the brain to be interpreted as sound.
Because a cochlear implant uses an entirely different signal than normal hearing or hearing aids, parents must be committed to teaching their child to listen with this device.
The cochlear implant team includes Michael Novak, MD and Ryan Porter, MD, audiologists, speech language pathologists, developmental specialists and educators to support your child.
The evaluation consists of:
- Audiological evaluation to determine your child's hearing loss. Hearing aid testing helps determine if they fit appropriately and provide adequate benefit.
- Speech and language evaluation that may include a series of diagnostic therapy appointments to determine how hearing aid use impacts your child's speech and language development.
- Medical evaluation which may include CT and/or MRI scans of the cochlea.
Cochlear implants generally work best for infants and children with:
- Moderate to profound hearing loss
- Limited benefit from hearing aids
- Support from parents, caregivers, teachers and school programs to help develop hearing skills specific to the cochlear implant
The outpatient cochlear implant procedure typically takes one to two hours. Our surgeon discusses pre-operative procedures and risks with your family prior to surgery.
Language and speech patterns develop over time based on what a child hears. When children are deaf and hard of hearing, it can be difficult for them to learn the patterns and rules of spoken language. Hearing aids and cochlear implants can make it possible for children to hear the sounds of speech, allowing them to develop speech and spoken language.
ECHO speech language pathologists offer:
- Diagnostic assessments to determine areas in speech, language and listening development that may benefit from therapy
- Diagnostic therapy to assess how well your child is benefiting from his or her hearing aid
- Speech, language and listening therapy to target areas of delay
- Consultation to ensure your child continues to develop communication and academic skills at school to their full potential
Early Intervention Services
Early intervention enhances development and maximizes potential for children with hearing loss. Our program offers hands-on learning options for children ages 0–3 and their parents to get a jump start on speech, language and listening skills.
Learn more about early intervention options through the Birth to Three Program at Carle Auditory Oral School.
We offer direct intervention, consultation, and trainings for students in public or private schools, their families, and the school professionals who work with them. Services can be provided in person or via tele-conferencing. Educational assessments and support for individualized education plans (IEP) are also provided. Weekly therapy and language based academic support are available. For additional information please contact Uma.Soman@carle.com.
Your appointment will take place in our ECHO facility:
Expanding Children’s Hearing Opportunities (ECHO)
805 W. Park St.
Urbana, IL 61801