Iraqi Child’s Hearing Destroyed By Missile Now Restored by UCSF

16 Jan

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Three year old Iraqi Mustafa Al-Nadawi lost his hearing in 2007, after an explosive device hit a neighboring home. Earlier today, Dr. Lawrence Lustig restored Mustafa’s hearing, thanks to a cochlear implant, a device pioneered by UCSF.

UCSF scientists have been at the forefront in the development of the cochlear implant since its evolution, beginning in the 1950s. The late Dr. Robin Michelson was one of three scientists worldwide that created and implanted single-channel cochlear devices in human volunteers in the early 1970s. In the 1980s, UCSF neuroscientist Michael Merzenich, PhD, was one of the pioneers of the development of multichannel cochlear implants, which enabled profoundly deaf people to understand normal speech.

The cochlear implant is still the most technologically sophisticated neuroprosthesis ever created. It was the first of Merzenich’s many subsequent efforts to develop techniques for treating traumatic disorders and diseases based on the concept of neuroplasticity.

In the 1990s, Merzenich developed software programs for language and learning disabilities, and is currently exploring software-based programs for overcoming the deficits that accompany normal and pathological aging, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury, damage accompanying brain infections or chemotherapy, and stroke.

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