History of the Team

Cochlear implantation in South Africa commenced in November 1986.

In 1990 Professor Johannes G. Swart, former Head of the Ear-, Nose- & Throat Department of the University of Pretoria, established “The University of Pretoria Cochlear Implant Unit (UP-CIU)”.

The first two adults were implanted in 1991. In 1992 the first children were implanted.

Since then, patient numbers have been steadily increasing as technology and selection criteria changed over the years. UP-CIU is now called the PRETORIA COCHLEAR IMPLANT UNIT or PCIU.

The PCIU has performed more than 900 implants.

There are currently 12 different cochlear implant centres available in South Africa, of which the PCIU is the second largest. Approximately 3000 cochlear implants have been performed in South Africa up to the beginning of 2020.

The PCIU is an independent entity, with team members that are private health care providers, and with research ties to researchers at the University of Pretoria. Operations are performed at three private hospitals in Pretoria. Mapping and other audiological services are performed at the PCIU on location in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology of the University of Pretoria. The PCIU is involved in undergraduate student training as well as the postgraduate short course in Additional Training in Cochlear Implant MAPping and Rehabilitation, accredited by the HPCSA. Research studies are performed in collaboration with the University of Pretoria’s Department of Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology, and with Bioengineering at the University of Pretoria.

Cochlear implantation requires a unique combination of technology, skills and long-term support provided by a multi-disciplinary team. Our background in research and development within the field of cochlear implantation, and in the service partnership we foster with local services in supporting our patients, has built up a national and international reputation for excellence in cochlear implant service provision.

We aim to provide lifelong support for our patients, both present and future.

 

 

Meet the Team

Audiologists

Mrs Nicolize Cass
M. Communication Pathology, University of Pretoria

Nicolize has worked as a clinical and diagnostic audiologist with the focus on adult and paediatric cochlear implantation, following her graduation from the University of Pretoria in 2000. She has worked in hospital based private practices and has also been involved in part-time lecturing and clinical teaching to undergraduate students at the University of Pretoria. Nicolize completed the HPCSA Additional Licensing In Cochlear Implants at the University of Stellenbosch in 2005. She joined the Pretoria Cochlear Implant Unit as clinical and diagnostic audiologist in 2005 and is acting as the clinical co-ordinator of the Unit since 2008.

Dr. Talita le Roux
Research & Clinical Audiology

Talita is a senior lecturer in Audiology in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology in the Faculty of Humanities, University of Pretoria. She is dually qualified as speech-language therapist and audiologist and obtained both her master’s and PhD degrees from the University of Pretoria. Talita completed the Short course in additional training in cochlear implant mapping and rehabilitation (accredited by the HPCSA) at the University of Stellenbosch in 2010 and since became involved at the Pretoria Cochlear Implant Unit as clinical audiologist and researcher. Talita’s teaching, clinical training and research interests are centered on cochlear implants and she is also a member of the University of Pretoria Cochlear Implant Research Interest Group.

Marinda Beukes

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Tania Swart

Tania qualified as a Speech Language Therapist and Audiologist from the University of Pretoria in 2006. She completed her Master’s degree in Communication Pathology from the University of Pretoria in 2009. During the course of her research for her Master’s degree she developed a special interest in cochlear implants and completed the HPCSA Additional Licensing in Cochlear Implants through the University of Stellenbosch in 2010. She first served as a clinical and diagnostic audiologist in the Bloemfontein Cochlear Implant Programme and then joined the Pretoria Cochlear Implant Unit in 2016. She has experience in working with both children and adults with hearing loss.

Prof Leigh Biagio de Jager
Research & Electro-Physiological testing

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Ear-, Nose- & Throat specialists

Dr. E Burden

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Dr. A Smit

Dr Smit has been practicing as an Ear – Nose- & Throat specialist in Pretoria since March 2012. He completed his studies in Otorhinolaryngology at the University of Pretoria in February 2012. After his studies he spent time under the tutorship of doctor Miles Goldsmith, voted one of “100 best doctors in the USA”, at the Georgia Ear Institute, USA. He has a family-friendly ear- nose- & throat practice, with special interests in paediatric otolaryngology, general and specialized ear surgery, nose- and sinus surgery, reconstructive nose surgery and cochlear implants. He is a member of the Pretoria Cochlear Implant Unit (PCIU), the South African Cochlear Implant Group (SACIG) as well as the South African Rhinoplasty Society of South Africa (SORSSA). As a surgeon, he is involved with the University of Pretoria’s Cochlear Implant Group

Dr. M Maseko

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Dr. L Hofmeyr

Louis is an ENT surgeon who qualified in 2001. His main interest and scope of practice is limited to Otology and Neur-otology. Conditions included in this super speciality include cochlear implantation, implantable hearing devices, vestibular schwannoma, vertigo, balance disorders, Bell’s palsy, tinnitus and marble bone disease (sclerosteosis). He was a former Adjunct Professor in ENT, at the University of Pretoria and the Chief ENT surgeon of the South African National Defence Force. He is a member of the SA ENT Society and the South African Cochlear Implant Group(SACIG) and has been involved in cochlear implantation since 2001.

Prof. M. Tshifularo

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Speech Therapists

Karin Weinmann

Karin has worked in clinical speech language therapy and audiology with a focus on services to the paediatric population following graduation from the University of Pretoria in 1996. She has enjoyed her practice in these areas of expertise while involved in hospital based positions, special education and private practice. She completed her Masters degree in Communication Pathology in 2004 (Cum Laude). In 2013 she completed LSLS Listening and Spoken Language: Professional Training accredited by the University of Stellenbosch. Shealso completed additional clinical and theoretical training in Early Intervention presented by the University of Pretoria during 1998 and qualified in as a Hanen Certified Therapist in 2014. Karin has been involved with hearing implant services in SA since 2011. She is a member of SACIG (South African Cochlear Implant Group) and works as a team member of the Pretoria Cochlear Implant Unit (PCIU). She also has a special interest in sensory integration in relation with communication development.

Estienne Havenga

Estienne graduated from the University of Pretoria in 2010 and has served as a speech-language therapist and audiologist in the public and private sectors for the past 10 years. In 2015, she completed a post-graduate pilot study regarding tele-intervention for children with hearing loss, which was published in the International Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare. She joined the Pretoria Cochlear Implant Team in 2017 as an adult aural rehabilitation specialist. She currently works in private practice in Pretoria and provides intervention/therapy services to children and adults with hearing loss. She lectures part-time at the University of Pretoria.

Isabel Schimper

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Others

Tania van Huyssteen
Psychologist

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Brenda Schmid
Teacher of the Deaf

Brenda originally qualified as a remedial pre-primary teacher. She completed a further dual specialization year to qualify as a ‘speech and hearing teacher’ and ‘teacher of the deaf’.She has over 20 years experience teaching and working with the families of children with hearing loss. She consulted for the Pretoria Cochlear Implant Unit specifically with regards to children with hearing loss and additional disabilities from early 2000 to 2009, and then formally joined the team in January 2010. Brenda completed further training in listening and spoken language therapy through We Listen International, Inc. in 2010, under the auspices of Warren Estabrooks.Brenda is a paediatric aural rehabilitation specialist working with families and their children from the start of their cochlear implant journey all the way through to school placement and beyond.

Carinè Crafford
Administrative Assistant

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Anja Pollard
Music Therapist

Anja joined the PCIU in 2019 as the first qualified music specialist in South Africa on a CI-team. The ultimate goal of having a music specialist on the team, is to afford our music loving clients opportunities to develop skills in achieving physical and emotional wellness after receiving a cochlear implant. Anja holds a Master’s degree in Music Therapy from the University of Pretoria (2006), is a fellow of the American Music and Imagery Association (2017), has degrees in psychology and music performance; and is a HPCSA-registered Arts (music) therapist. Music therapists are musically skilled, trained healthcare workers who specialise in using music to address the unique needs of their clients. She has worked in private and public health care facilities with clients of all ages, and has experience in assisting a wide variety of client populations (autism spectrum, dementia, neonatal care, cancer patients, mentally and physically challenged clients, clients with speech-, language- social- and emotional challenges). She is also a part-time lecturer in Community music at WITS university and a Master’s student supervisor and external examiner at the University of Pretoria’s Music department.

Bio-Engineering

Prof. Johan Hanekom

Johan is the group head of Bioengineering at UP and has been involved with cochlear implant research at the University of Pretoria since 1988 when the first single channel CIs were implanted in South Africa. As engineer, he has been part of the Pretoria Cochlear Implant Unit since inception, while also leading CI research within Bioengineering at UP. This includes psychoacoustic research and computer modelling studies of the electrically stimulated auditory periphery, as well as modelling of processing of CI-elicited space-time spike train patterns in the central auditory nervous system. A core objective is to understand the relationship between stimulus and perception in CI users. Our work includes a world first – computer modelling of CI stimulated cochleae of individual CI users. This work is driven by prof Tania Hanekom, Johan’s wife, and proves to be a valuable diagnostic tool for difficult cases. Johan and Tania have published their research in many high-quality international journals within the fields of speech perception and the auditory neurosciences.

Prof. Tania Hanekom

Prof Tania Hanekom is a professor in the Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering in the Faculty of EBIT. Her research is in the area of computational physiology of the electrically stimulated human auditory system. The research aims to create user-specific computer models of the auditory periphery of cochlear implant (CI) users with the objective to develop clinical tools to allow non-invasive model-based diagnostics and model-predicted customization of device parameters.