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New Chair for Infant Hearing Tests Now in Use
Taking appointments in Selkirk from across the Interlake Region

February 13, 2014 – Infant hearing tests are now taking place at Selkirk and District General Hospital thanks to a $2,000 donation from the Rotary Club of Selkirk that has purchased a reclining chair with antimicrobial upholstery. The chair lets a parent comfortably hold the sleeping infant in arms while the test is conducted.

Michelle Polinuk, president of the Rotary Club of Selkirk was on hand yesterday at Selkirk and District Hospital to view the new chair.

“The Rotary Club is glad to do this,” Polinuk said. “When we found out there was a need for the chair to be able to offer infant hearing tests here in Selkirk, we decided to get involved and make it happen.”

The Auditory Brain Response test measures brain waves produced then the ear hears sounds. For test accuracy, the infant needs to be asleep throughout the test that can last one to two hours. Electrodes placed on the child’s forehead and behind both ears or on the earlobes pick up the brain’s electrical responses to tones and clicks presented by earphones placed in a child’s ears.

In order for this painless test to provide accurate results, the infant must be asleep. The chair accommodates a parent or caregiver who holds the infant in arms for the duration of the test. Every time people move, the muscles generate electricity. This electricity is usually much greater in strength than the electricity generated by the auditory system. When trying to measure a very small auditory electrical signal, if other stronger signals are coming from the muscles, it’s too difficult or impossible to measure the response of the ears.

Mamdoh Gerges Interlake-Eastern RHA audiologist, who conducts the infant hearing tests in Selkirk, says the experience is positive for parents and infants.

“Babies feel the greatest security and comfort in their parents’ arms and are able to fall asleep naturally without the use of sedatives. Parents have a greater comfort level being present for the duration of the test with their baby held close,” Gerges said.

The earlier hearing loss can be detected the better off a child will be.

“There is greater opportunity for us to provide help with the child’s speech, language and cognitive abilities and make sure they are on par with their peers. If hearing loss is not addressed it can greatly diminish a child’s development and have a lifelong impact,” Gerges said.

Until now, Interlake-Eastern RHA has been offering infant hearing tests in Beausejour. The Rotary Club of Selkirk’s donation makes testing more convenient for residents in the west side of the RHA. The wait time for audiology testing within the region is two to six weeks. Self referrals can be made, but it is best for parents/caregivers have their family physician/nurse practitioner/pediatrician make a referral for infant hearing testing. Visit here for an audiology referral form and for information on where to send it.
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