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Popping up for Aboriginal children's ear health

December 3, 2018

A puppet box might sound out of place in a health care setting, but this simple device, acquired thanks to a generous donation, is making ear testing for children easier and more effective.

Ear disease and associated hearing loss are highly prevalent among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. This has several developmental impacts, including a child’s ability to participate at school.

A major source of ear disease in children is Otitis media (or middle ear infection), a painful inflammation of the middle ear that can cause dizziness and temporary hearing loss.

Early detection is vital, but young children are often reluctant to undergo ear testing, particularly when their ears are infected and sore. In addition, it is difficult to test hearing of children when they are too young to provide verbal feedback. 

Now, thanks to a generous donation from RACV as part of the Good Citizen Program, we have acquired a puppet box to make testing easier.

It is used as part of the hospital’s monthly ‘Healthy Ears’ (Ear, Nose and Throat ENT) clinic at Victorian Aboriginal Health Service in Fitzroy.

This enables the children’s hearing to be tested in a safe environment, with a fun and engaging tool.

Each time a child hears a sound played through their headphones, they press a disc, then a puppet appears.

This is a quick and easy way to test hearing for infants to young children, and doesn’t require any verbal feedback.

The RACV community team recently attended a Healthy Ears clinic to see their puppet box in action and were delighted to see it in action and the difference it makes.