We’ve mentioned different careers that people who are deaf or hard of hearing would find easier to manage, but it’s important to emphasize that you can have any career that you want - no matter how good or bad your hearing is.
As part of Women's History Month we're going to share facts about the inspirational life and career of Dr. Helen Brooke Taussig, a pioneer in pediatric cardiology who used her hands to listen to heart rhythms due to her hearing loss.
A Career in Cardiology
The work and research of Dr. Taussig made a difference in the lives of thousands of babies who had congenital heart defects at birth. She was a key figure in preventing a potential epidemic of birth defects by campaigning against the approval of thalidomide usage in the U.S.
Dr. Taussig went to Johns Hopkins Medical School and graduated in 1927. This was during a time when not all universities granted advanced degrees to women. In addition to her hearing loss, which was caused by whooping cough, she also suffered from dyslexia.
Healing Infants with Blue Baby Syndrome
Currently, infants who are born with anoxemia, also known as “blue baby” syndrome, have a higher chance of survival because of the work contributed by Dr. Taussig. Congenital heart defects cause blue baby syndrome. After determining the complications that cause low blood flow to the lungs in children who has blue baby syndrome, Dr. Taussig came up with a new type of surgery that was tested by surgeon Alfred Blalock and surgical technician Vivien Thomas. This procedure became known as the Blalock-Taussig shunt.
Listening to the Heart through Touch
Cardiologists use a stethoscope to hear a patient’s heartbeat. After Dr. Taussig began to experience hearing loss, she used hearing aids and read lips in order to communicate. When she needed to treat patients, she used her fingers. She “listened” to children’s heartbeats by placing her fingers over their chest and could detect issues such as heart murmurs by way of touch.
Dr. Taussig was cited as the founder of pediatric cardiology. After graduating from medical school, she was head of the Children’s Heart Clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital between 1930 to 1936. She continued working at Johns Hopkins until she retired in 1963. In 1965 she was elected as the first woman to be president of the American Heart Association.
If you or a loved one are experiencing hearing loss, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation.