Updated on 3 March 2014
Dr Ingeborg Hochmair founder and CEO, MED-EL
Dr Ingeborg Hochmair is the founder and CEO of worldwide hearing implant leader MED-EL. In September 2013, Dr Ingeborg Hochmair, was nominated for the prestigious Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award for the development of the modern cochlear implant, a device that restores hearing to individuals with severe-to-profound deafness through electrical stimulation of the auditory nerve.
Dr Ingeborg Hochmair was recognized for her early contri- butions to the field of cochlear implants starting with the development of the world's first multi-channel microelec- tronic cochlear implant that was implanted in Vienna in 1977. In a brief conversation with BioSpectrum, Dr Ho- chmair talks about hearing problems in India, cochlear implants and MED-EL's role.
How has the technology evolved over the years to overcome this problem?
The technology has been around for over 30 years and is available in India for 20 years. Dur- ing this time the technology's results have improved, the implants and outer parts have become smaller and more products have been made available to match different types of hearing loss.
For example the MED-EL Bonebridge has just been launched in India. This is designed for people, where sound cannot be transferred through the inner or middle ear and works for some types of single-sided deafness. We also have the Rondo, the world's first single unit proces- sor that is placed discretely behind the ear. Other options include electric acoustic stimulation for partial deafness and Soundbridge for middle ear hearing loss. There really are a wide range of products available providing a num- ber of solutions.
What is the level of awareness among people and how can it be increased?
Awareness is certainly very low, for a number of reasons. Historically, there has been a lack of funding, but the government is now aware and sees this as an important issue that should result in more Indians receiving Cochlear Implants. The health screening proce- dures of children is not at the level it should be and a high number of home births mean many children with hear- ing problems go undetected. On top of this, the growth of India, with around 50,000 births everyday, means, that even if a small proportion of these are born profound- ly deaf, it is still a huge number of children (and then adults) have hearing problems. We as a hearing solution company need to work with our partners in outlining the benefits across India.