A joint auditory and verbal training and research center — the first of its kind on the mainland — was established at Xinhua Hospital yesterday to provide long-term rehabilitation for children and adults with hearing disorders.
The aim is to help them to better integrate into normal social life and schools. China has an acute shortage of professional therapists and the center will train more of them.
Set up by Xinhua Hospital and the University of Ottawa, the center will introduce a "one-stand intervention, treatment and rehabilitation system" from Canada to Xinhua.
There are more than 27.8 million Chinese with hearing disorders, including 137,000 children who suffer from hearing disability, 70 percent of whom have language disability.
"Thanks to a newborn hearing screening project initiated in Shanghai since 2002, almost all local children have received screening and early intervention like government-sponsored hearing aids and artificial cochlea," said Dr Yang Jun from Xinhua Hospital.
"But the follow-up and regular training and rehabilitation to patients and their families are far from adequate. In Canada, every child with artificial cochlea implantation receives at least one-year training and rehabilitation and almost all can go to ordinary schools."
Local experts said they would learn from the Canadian model to set up a family-hospital-society system adapted for Chinese conditions.
"The international standard is to have 20 auditory verbal therapists for every 100,000 population, which means there should be 260,000 therapists in China, but it has less than 10,000," said Dr Du Qing, director of Xinhua's department of rehabilitation.
"We want to cooperate with the University of Ottawa to set up a professional therapist training system and promote the trainer course to improve capability of working therapists," said Du.
A local mother of a 2-year-old boy being implanted artificial cochlea for both ears said her son had improved quickly at Xinhua after receiving professional training for two months.
"He only had simple pronunciation like 'Ah' at first and now he can say many words and his cognitive ability also improved quickly," said the mother surnamed Zhou. "I also learned many skills from therapists about training him."