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New equipment for Torbay Hospital's Audiology department

South Devon babies and children now have access to a much improved hearing test system thanks to a generous donation from the Torbay Hospital League of Friends.

The donation of £6,450 has enabled South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Torbay Hospital, to buy four new visual response audiometry (VRA) cabinets. These new cabinets will be more accurate and successful, which is particularly important when it comes to fitting hearing aids for children with a permanent hearing impairment.

VRA cabinets have three separate compartments, each containing a toy. Two cabinets are used in a test and are positioned either side of where the child sits. The six toys used in the test remain unseen inside the darkened cabinet until the child hears a sound. When they turn towards it, they are rewarded with a cabinet lighting up and displaying one of the toys.

Before these new cabinets were bought by the League of Friends, the Trust used single VRA cabinets, but children quickly tire of repeatedly seeing the same toy, which can lead to fatigue during the test, so an improved system was needed.

Infants with permanent hearing loss have a hearing assessment and hearing aid update every three months, so they learn very quickly what to expect to see in the cabinets. The new cabinets have a wide variety of toys so that sessions can be prolonged and much more accurate information can be obtained at each test.

Head of Audiology at Torbay Hospital, Claire Rockett, said: “Having four of these new cabinets will really help us to cope with the number of referrals into our children’s hearing service. Already both patients and staff are enjoying the new system; we are so grateful to our wonderful League of Friends for making this possible. We can also continue to use the existing single VRA cabinets for the more routine hearing tests.”

David Rogers, Chairman of the League of Friends said: “We are delighted to have been able to provide funds for this equipment. We know it will be an immense help in diagnosing early hearing problems in our children.”