Aaron Collins wins Dean's 2020 Innovation Prize

Aaron Collins from Otolaryngology has won the Dean's 2020 Innovation Prize for surgical tool to improve Indigenous Ear Health

Otitis media (OM) is endemic amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Up to a third of these children suffer an eardrum perforation that persists into adulthood. Hearing loss can be prevented with surgical repair of the perforation, however, a third of these ears will still need a hearing aid, with the associated costs, for life. Persistent conductive hearing loss after successful surgery could be related to reduced mobility of the ossicles undetectable by surgeons.

Our approach to determining the stiffness of the ossicles is to adapt the inexpensive ISQ (“Implant Stability Quotient”) system which is used to assess the stability of dental implants. This system uses magnetic resonance to infer stability, or stiffness, of the implants once fitted. Our concept is to couple a small magnet to ossicles during surgery to repair the eardrum and measure these vibrations of the ossicle to infer its stiffness and then removing the magnet.

If the surgeon knows that the ossicles are stiff, they can immediately proceed to operate on the ossicles to restore their movement, and improve the hearing of Indigenous people with OM.

Please join us in congratulating Aaron on this outstanding achievement.