Grayson Clamp, 3, recently heard for the first time in his short life after receiving a breakthrough auditory brain stem implant. He has already begun making sounds of his own and has displayed a love of music. The picture shows Grayson’s reaction to hearing his father’s voice for the first time.
Grayson’s mother and father, Nicole and Len said that in the few weeks since the device was activated. , their son has made significant progress. The child needs to be exposed to all sorts of sounds so he can get used to them and learn to associate them with objects and actions. So far the youngster loves any type of music.
Nicole was overjoyed at witnessing her son’s first experience with sound. She felt a tremendous sense of relief from seeing the device work after the long journey they had gone through to get Grayson to that point. It was overwhelming.
The Clamps’ had tried everything in their quest to help their deaf son. The method they finally chose was untested in the U.S. on children.
Grayson, who had been placed in foster care as an infant and then adopted by the Clamps, heard for the first time when the implant was activated. His parents have no idea what this experience is like for him. It’s hard to imagine what he hears. His brain has to learn how to organize sounds now.
Grayson’s deafness is caused by a lack of the cochlear nerves in his ears which let humans process the sounds around us. A cochlear implant was tried but failed. That was when the Clamps decided to enroll Grayson in the research trial at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Doctors there were researching the use of brain stem implants on children.
Though the implants have been in use in the U.S. since 1979, they had never been tested on children. The procedure has been approved and used in Europe. A microchip is implanted in the patient’s brain and it helps the recipient recognize sounds and process them. It works in a similar fashion to a cochlear implant in that it uses electrical impulses. The difference is it stimulates the brain, not the cochlea.
The procedure has seen varying degrees of success with the nearly 1,000 people who have undergone it. The majority describe it as being able to hear the beat but not the melody; as having an awareness of sound.
The device seems to be working well for Grayson. His face lights up when he hears his dad’s voice. Len Clamp says it’s been phenomenal.