Doctors have struggled to prevent hearing loss that is common in premature infants and efforts have been made to reduce noise from loud, hissing ventilators by making quieter motors and having infants wear ear muffs. Doctors in Minnesota have focused on the ventilator tubing in an infant's mouth and the vibrations in the skull created by the tubing. The decibel reading from the tubing was very high.
A team of researchers have developed and successfully implanted an auditory brainstem implant (ABI) in 4 children who could not previously hear because they did not have an auditory nerve. The ABI is considered revolutionary because it stimulates neurons at the brainstem directly and completely bypasses the inner ear.