Cochlear implants: The Amazing Technology That Restores Hearing

– I think the essence of humanity, just being able to communicate
and interact with each other. We take for granted our hearing and if you take that away, it’s very difficult to be part of that interaction between people. It’s very important for us to hear and to be part of a community. As you lose hearing, you start losing clarity. – The biggest misconception with hearing loss is that people just can’t hear sounds loud enough. – The worst part of not being able to hear is like not knowing
what other people are saying. – There’s a difference between hearing and understanding because of the high-frequency nature of the hearing loss, they don’t understand. – Many of the sounds are very difficult and become muddled. As you start losing hearing, you don’t notice it and you compensate in small ways. – If somebody told a joke, maybe you hear some of the joke but you don’t hear the punchline, so am I gonna laugh? Am I gonna ask him to repeat it? – People sometimes become isolated. They don’t wanna put themselves in situations
where they can’t communicate well. – They are losing parts of their life because
they are embarrassed that they can’t hear, and they suffer kind of silently. – [Dr. Michaelides] Jim has had hearing loss
that has progressed over many years. It started when he was younger. – [Jim] I could remember melodies from the time I was five years old but the words I never got, and I felt like I was outside looking in. – [Casey] I wouldn’t be able to hear the teacher, and I wouldn’t know what’s going on. – We first realized that she might have some hearing loss
was when she was first born. – It was just subtle changes. She started mixing up letters like she missed Ss at the end of her words. – [Jennifer Hopper] The most common type of hearing loss
involves the higher frequencies which is going to involve Fs and d Ts, and SHs and Ps and for English, those are the most important speech sounds. – She was learning herself how to read lips because she didn’t know that there was any other way of understanding. – As a parent, the hardest thing is not being able to help your child. – When you have hearing loss, you lose all these little hair cells but the nerve itself is still completely functional, it just can’t receive the signal. – [Dr. Michaelides] A cochlear implant is the device
that we can use to restore hearing. It allows us to bypass the damaged inner ear and stimulate the nerve to recreate hearing. – [Megan Narron] You have two parts. You have an external speech processor or sound processor. Multiple microphones on it pick up sound, it receives that sound and it is transmitted to the internal
cochlear implant placed at the time of surgery. – [Dr. Michaelides] We make a tiny hole into the cochlea itself and then slip an array of electrodes into the inner ear. – [Megan Narron] The electrode array bypasses the damaged part of the ear and it sends an electrical stimulation directly to the hearing nerve. Cochlear implants will give you access to more sound but a lot of work and energy needs to go into that too. – The mission of the Yale Hearing and Balance Program is really to offer something unique because we are a large academic center we can handle anything. – [Megan Narron] You get to work with a lot of different multi-specialties. We get to see a patient as a whole and fit any patient with what is appropriate for them. – [Casey’s mom] When Casey was five, she was
scheduled for her first cochlear implant. They said we don’t have to do it now, but it’s better to do it young and she is moderate to severe, the hearing aids aren’t gonna work forever. – When I had the hearing aids, they just made
everything more louder but I couldn’t hear very well. – [Dr. Michaelides] We are learning more about how to create better signals for the inner ear to make the sound more and more realistic. – Technology is pretty exciting right now. Things are getting small, software is getting smart. They’ve really come a long way with integrating into a lifestyle. [Birds chirping softly] – [Jim] Shortly after I got my first implant, I went out to get the paper [Bird sounds get louder]
and all of a sudden I hear all this chirpin’ and birds singin’. I could identify eight different sounds, which told me that there were eight different species of birds out there, and I was, I was amazed at that. – [Casey] Now that I have the cochlears, I hear much better. – [Casey’s dad] She learned how to use it in a matter of weeks. She gets to experience life in a better way. – [Casey] And I could finally hear the first sounds that I’ve never heard before. – It’s amazing that my little daughter is deaf but she can hear me. – The best part of my job is being able to see someone’s face when they hear sound for the first time. – It’s just wonderful to see people in post-op who are hearing again. You’ve given them back something that they’ve been deeply missing. – I really didn’t feel that in my lifetime I was gonna hear. I was very happy. – It’s just a real joy for me to be able to see the smile on people’s faces when they come back and actually can hear again. – When you walk in the room and their face lights up with a smile, it’s hard not to love what you do.

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