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Cochlear Implants Help Woman Rediscover Sound

  • September 1, 2006
  • Number of views: 2398

Thanks to a cochlear implant, Janice has rediscovered sounds she hasn''t heard in years.

Janice Jones was hard of hearing for most of her adult life.

By age 55, a problem that started in grade school had gotten progressively worse over the years. She tried hearing aids but they did not offer substantial improvement. While researching other alternatives, she discovered cochlear implants.

"I had heard about them but didn''t understand how they worked," says Jones. An article in her local newspaper featured a child who had an implant and how it changed her life.

"A mother said in the story her child could hear what was going on in the next room, and here I had a hard enough time hearing someone in the same room," says Jones.

Her audiologist recommended she visit otolaryngologists at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. It was there she met Timothy Hullar, MD, assistant professor of otolaryngology.

As one of the cochlear implant specialists in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Dr. Hullar and the department''s team of specialized audiologists provided a comprehensive evaluation. They determined Jones, who suffered from profound hearing impairment in both ears, was a candidate for a cochlear implant, an electronic prosthetic replacement for damaged cells in the inner ear.

"Mrs. Jones was an ideal candidate for a cochlear implant. While many people know that deaf children can benefit from this revolutionary technology, implantation also allows many adults with gradual hearing loss to experience remarkable improvements in their ability to communicate," says Dr. Hullar.

Since the program began in 1985, experts at Barnes-Jewish and Washington University not only implant cochlear implant devices, but help patients learn how to use them as well. It''s one of very few programs at which every patient receives an intensive, individually tailored aural rehabilitation program.

Jones credits many individuals in the program for helping her along the way. "They''ve helped me understand speech and explained different processors and what to expect," says Jones.

Now enjoying sounds she hadn''t heard in years, Jones credits the program with helping change her life.

"Dr. Hullar and everyone connected with the program have just been wonderful," says Jones. "They all want you to be able to hear the best you can."

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