Cochlear implants giving the gift of sound

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Deafness – whether you’re born with it – or it comes over time – can hinder every day life. Starting in the late 70s, a new technology was invented to give the gift of hearing back.

When someone loses their hearing there are a few routes to take. You can learn sign language or how to read lips. But one that’s becoming more and more common is the cochlear implant. 

“Now that I have it, I wish I would have gotten it sooner.”

Todd Iszler was born deaf. His parents found out when he was 21 months old.  It wasn’t until 3 years ago that his wife convinced him to get the cochlear implant. However, his first sound wasn’t what he was expecting.  

“The hardest part was hearing my wife’s voice. It sounded like glass shattering. And it made me cry,” said Iszler. 

There’s a reason behind that. Clyde Eisenbeis, an electric design engineer, once worked on cochlear implants. There are tiny little hairs inside the cochlea that allows a person to hear. When someone is deaf, those hairs don’t function. A cochlear implant wakes them up using an electrode – and that can be overwhelming to someone who has never heard a sound.

Eisenbeis said, “When you simulate it with electricity or electric current, instead of firing a few hair cells, you’re firing thousands of hair cells. And the first thing that patients hear is noise.”

It took Tood quite a few month to get used to all the noises. He says he’s still learning, but has no regrets.

“I’m glad I took the risk, and it has been a great risk to take,” said Iszler. 

And he has advice for parents of deaf children or anyone that could be considering the implant. 

He said, “It doesn’t take anything away from you. It could really empower you more. It would enrich your lives more, gives you more hope.”

Todd says his life is much easier now. Eating at restaurants, or going to church makes it more than worth it. 

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