NEW YORK – OCTOBER 18, 2014 –– Today, the Ear Institute at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai (NYEE) hosted an unveiling event by the Children’s Hearing Institute (CHI) and Marvel Custom Solutions to reveal the identity of a new girl super hero with cochlear implants. The new super hero “Sapheara” was created by Marvel and CHI to help educate children and parents about cochlear implants and other hearing assist devices, as well as spread the message that it is not acceptable to bully anyone who wears a hearing aid or cochlear implant.
In the United States alone, roughly 58,000 adults and 38,000 children have received a cochlear implant to help improve their hearing. The small, complex device helps provide a sense of sound to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. At NYEE, over 150 cochlear implant surgeries are performed each year, making it one of the highest volume centers in the region.
“It is crucial parents and children understand the facts about hearing impairment and the many viable treatment options available for patients with all levels of hearing loss,” said Ronald Hoffman, MD, Medical Director of the Ear Institute at NYEE. “Having Sapheara as a resource for entertainment and education could help many more patients receive the evaluations and care they need to lead active and engaged lives.”
In addition to the unveiling of Sapheara, Iron Man made an appearance at the event, interacting with an audience of Ear Institute patients and their families, as well as faculty and staff from CHI and NYEE.
“CHI and the Ear Institute of NYEE have a long history of collaboration and we wanted the pediatric patients to really revel in the experience of having a super hero all their own,” said Melissa Willis, Executive Director, CHI. The mission of CHI is to raise awareness to fund programs to benefit infants and children with deafness, hearing loss and other auditory disorders, with crucial funding supporting medical research and clinical therapeutic services at the Ear Institute of NYEE.
Sapheara will be featured along with Iron Man and Blue Ear (a super hero with hearing aids) in a new dual comic book and teacher’s guide entitled “Sound Effects.” In an action packed storyline, together the super heroes will work to save New York City while addressing some very important issues such as: bullying, hearing loss awareness, and hearing loss prevention. Produced through the unique partnership between CHI and Marvel Custom Solutions, “Sound Effects” will be distributed to students in the New York City Metro Area from 3rd through 7th grade. To be released in late October, the comic book and teacher’s guide will reach approximately 150,000 students in the NYC Department of Education.
“Research has shown today’s new technology such as ear buds/iPods, and media gaming consoles has played a role in a degree of hearing loss in today’s youth. Part of our message is to educate this population, in an exciting way, on the potential dangers of technological and environmental noises,” says Simon Parisier, MD, Founder of CHI and a Faculty Emeritus at NYEE. “What’s unique is that Marvel helps translate the impact of this message by using Iron Man along with these new super hero characters who have experienced hearing loss and use hearing aids and cochlear implants to hear.”
About the Ear Institute at NYEE
The Ear Institute at NYEE builds upon a rich tradition of excellence and leadership in treating diseases of the ear. It brings together, at one center, a diverse group of outstanding ear specialists from the New York metropolitan region, who are pioneers in cochlear implantation, medical and surgical otology and neurotology, hearing and balance disorders in adults and children and clinical and basic science research.