Report by: Emma Stapleton, Locum Consultant Otolaryngologist, Cochlear Implant and Skull Base Surgeon, Manchester Royal Infirmary, Manchester, UK.
The inaugural Cochlear Symposium was held in Edinburgh in early December. Entitled ‘Leading Change Together,’ the event involved healthcare professionals from across the UK, Ireland and South Africa, including surgeons, programme co-ordinators, clinical scientists, specialist audiologists and speech therapists, as well as academics and industry representatives.
The event had an over-arching theme of recognizing and managing the increasing pressures facing our healthcare system, and the growing need to support people whose lives are affected by hearing loss. Key topics included research and innovation, evolution in clinical care, and building sustainable care models. Building on these themes, the Cochlear Symposium brought together perspectives from healthcare and industry, in a joint ambition to transform the way hearing loss is understood and treated, particularly with respect to implantable devices. Throughout the event, professional artists produced colourful murals to illustrate the presentations and discussions; these were extremely popular.
Following an inspiring welcome from Mr Stuart Thomas, General Manager, Cochlear UK and Ireland, delegates were treated to a morning on the theme of ‘Research and Innovation: Driving Performance’ which included clinical research presentations from Cochlear Implant centres across the UK and Ireland. The topic of hearing preservation in cochlear implantation was enthusiastically debated, and is clearly still a hot topic for future devices and techniques.
The afternoon session had a more sociological outlook, with a theme of ‘Evolution in Clinical Care and Hearing Rehabilitation,’ incorporating presentations and discussions about cochlear implantation at the extremes of age, i.e. paediatric and elderly populations, and small group workshops on the evolution of clinical care and hearing rehabilitation.
The Symposium Dinner was held at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, where a clever seating plan prompted lively collaborative discussion between colleagues from different backgrounds and centres. The dinner was preceded by a devilishly difficult quiz, which Birmingham’s Louise Craddock won in spectacular style.
The second day focused on ‘Facing our Healthcare Challenges Together’ and ‘Building Sustainable Care Models.’ During the morning session, the ethos of the Symposium, and the future of hearing health, was summed up by Professor Brian Lamb OBE, who proposed that the philosophy of hearing loss investment be turned around, changing the theme from the cost of managing hearing loss, to focus on the potential savings. He made a superb argument for the economic sense of treating hearing loss in terms of children, the working population and of course the elderly. ‘Enhancement, not deficit’ was the main message from his lecture.
Overall, this was a stimulating and collaborative event, which was extremely productive in bringing together professionals with an interest in hearing health, and driving a future vision for implantable devices. We hope it will become an annual event!