Posted at: 09/06/2012 7:08 AM
Updated at: 10/17/2012 6:06 PM
For most of us, it isn't something you think about often but imagine hearing nothing.
Doctor Mark Orlando helps people gain the ability to hear through his work with cochlear implants. “It's a device for individuals who get no benefit from traditional amplification devices like a hearing aide so it’s for individuals with sever to profound sensory or hearing loss.”
It is implanted in a patient surgically. “What we are implanting is a series of electrodes, which after a recover time, or healing time, four to five, we send an electrical current to each individual electrode to stimulate the ear. If implanted early in life children do extremely well with cochlear implants.”
For Doctor Orlando, volunteering is important. He oversees a program where college students in this field give hearing tests to Special Olympians at their events. “It's been very rewarding and beneficial and I think it is a two-fold benefit. It is a benefit to help these Special Olympic athletes and also to provide good mentorship to young professionals out in the field.”
For the athletes, it is an opportunity for some specialized care. “We are outside in a tent running a generator to run our equipment. People are running by, so what we are really doing is looking at the population that is participating in the Special Olympic events and trying to find some very specific problems that need more immediate attention.”
Doctor Orlando says the cochlear implant can change a child’s life. “Most of these children who are implanted early in life end up returning to their home school districts by the age of kindergarten or first grade.”
That's just part of the reason he is one of this year’s Golisano Foundation Leadership Award winners.
Mark Orlando is an audiologist and director of Research and Education in Audiology for the University of Rochester Medical Center. Orlando specializes in evaluating the hearing of infants, young children and difficult to test populations, fitting cochlear implants, performing research to evaluate cochlear function and mentoring and supervising the next generation of audiologists. Orlando became involved in Special Olympics’ Healthy Athlete program through clinical research with the organization. He has been doing hearing screenings at local and statewide Special Olympic events for several years.