Auditory brainstem response equipment

The Audiology Department at The Royal Children’s Hospital plays a crucial role in the diagnosis, monitoring and management of hearing health in children.

As it services patients from birth to 18 years old, there are a variety of assessment techniques and equipment used to evaluate hearing based on age and development.

The latest auditory brainstem response audiometry equipment is providing a specialised way to assess hearing in babies.

“We tell families to bring a hungry, tired baby to the clinic so the test can be conducted during the child’s natural sleep. Recording stickers are placed on the forehead and behind the ears which are all connected to a computer. Ear plugs are put in the baby’s ears where the computer can send different stimuli,” explains Christine Poulis, Manager of the Audiology Department.

“Testing commences after the baby is fed and falls asleep. The computer plays stimuli through the ear plugs, then measures the electric responses from the auditory nerve and brainstem.”

Six-week-old Alba having her hearing tested with the new equipment.

Previously, the equipment took longer to assess children as only one ear could be tested at a time.

The latest model of equipment means testing can be done in both ears simultaneously so families can have answers about their child’s hearing faster and in one appointment.

“Current research shows that hearing problems diagnosed and treated in the first three months of life result in better language outcomes for children.

“Thanks to the community’s generosity, we can continue to provide a high-quality service to all children with the best equipment on hand,” said Christine.

The auditory brainstem response equipment is one of 25 vital pieces of equipment that will be upgraded at The Royal Children’s Hospital thanks to the community’s support of the 2021 Good Friday Appeal.

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