Cochlear Implants Help Lindy Albaum Synchronize Her Scrambled Hearing

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A young Westchester girl is hearing and talking for the first time in her short life thanks to medical technology that gave her new tools to connect with the world.

Normally just saying your own name isn’t much of an accomplishment for a 4-year-old, but it is for Lindy Albaum, who was born with a rare neurological hearing problem.

“She didn’t know her name. She didn’t know the way her name sounded because with auditory neuropathy, the sound is scrambled,” Courtney Albaum, Lindy’s mother, told CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez on Monday.

But Lindy would sometimes pass a hearing test and sometimes fail miserably, so it took a while to get the right diagnosis — auditory dys-synchrony.

The hair cells in her inner ear were working, but weren’t synchronized, so they were sending garbled noise to Lindy’s brain, leaving her — for all intents and purposes — functionally deaf.

“She just wasn’t making progress in terms of acquiring speech or language or talking in sentences. It was like hearing a noisemaker instead of a distinct music machine,” said Dr. Anil Lalwani, of New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

The solution was cochlear implants in both of Lindy’s ears. They are magnetic transducers on her head that send converted sound signals to her implanted electrodes.

In just five months, Lindy has made remarkable progress. She’s now talking and can recite her colors.

While she’s only really been able to hear for a few months, she will soon be able to hear and speak like any normal hearing child, Dr. Lalwani said.

“We expect her to be mainstreamed in kindergarten, in a regular school,” said the girl’s father, Cary Albaum.

“It’s wonderful. It’s wonderful. It’s like watching a miracle every day,” Courtney Albaum said.

The first couple of years of life are so critical to normal language formation, cochlear implants are now done at a very early age — sometimes even before a child’s first birthday.

In Lindy’s case, though, it took a while to realize that what little hearing she had was garbled.

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