Bending over backward to help our patients fulfil their lifelong ambitions is all in a day’s work for our Children’s Hearing Service.
If the sparkling gold medal wasn’t evidence enough of how special 10-year-old Daphne Harrington is, watching her practise acrobatics definitely seals the deal.
For this gymnastics enthusiast from Dartford, backflips, handstands and walkovers are as natural as walking.
In fact she is such a natural, that earlier this year, along with her competition partner, Daphne won the gold medal at the National Gymnastics Championships in the disability category. An amazing achievement that would not have been possible without the support of our Children’s Hearing Service, so says Daphne’s mum, Sonia.
Diagnosed with bilateral hearing loss at an early age, Daphne has been under the care of Audio Vestibular Medicine
Consultant Dr Raj Nandi and the audiology team at Sevenoaks Hospital for five years.
“The team is wonderful,” said Sonia. “Daphne was tested and diagnosed at a young age because her older brother
Sylvester was also diagnosed with partial hearing loss by the team and they have looked after us all from the very beginning.
“Luckily, my youngest son Leonardo doesn’t have any hearing loss but they do believe there is a genetic link.
“Anytime we had a problem or question they were always there and we enjoy going to visit them for check-ups. We could have treatment closer to home but always choose to travel to Sevenoaks so we can see the team.”
Fortunately for Daphne, her hearing loss is moderate and non-progressive, which means with the help of a personalised hearing aid in each ear that is reviewed and assessed regularly, she can go about her life like any other 10-year-old.
In fact, according to Daphne, there are actually some benefits to having hearing aids. She said: “I like that I can choose the colours I want when they need to be changed. When I don’t wear them everything sounds a bit like whispering so if I need some peace and quiet I just take my hearing aids out. It’s great when I have tests at school!”
Along with her husband Sion, Sonia knew nothing would hold Daphne and her love of gymnastics back.
“We have no idea where she gets her talent from but since her first competition she has been absolutely hooked,” said Sonia.
“She practises at least eight hours a week at her club and is always wearing her leotard and leaping about the house. We just love to watch her.”
For Daphne and her gymnastics partner Charlotte, who does not have hearing loss, to compete at a national level in the disability category, they had to medically qualify. This is where the Children’s Hearing Team stepped in again.
Dr Raj Nandi said: “When Sonia asked us to help Daphne qualify for the gymnastics competition we were thrilled
to help and complete the medical bid.
“Sometimes, living with hearing loss can be challenging but we really believe it shouldn’t hold someone back from doing what they love or pursuing their dreams. We love to see our patients thrive and it’s wonderful to know one of our patients is a champion! We are all really proud of Daphne and her amazing success.”
Acrobatic gymnastics, nicknamed ‘acro’, is a competitive form of gymnastics where partners perform together creating acrobatic moves and dancing set to music. It is not an Olympic sport but its popularity has grown so much that there may be plans to include it in future.
It’s a fair bet Daphne Harrington is practising for that ultimate gold medal already.
How can we help?
The Children’s Hearing Service is a consultant-led paediatric audiology service offering hearing assessment and habilitation for children from birth to 16-years-old in west Kent, Medway and Swale. If you have concerns about your child’s hearing, please speak to your GP or healthcare professional who can refer you to the service.