Father and son both receive cochlear implants to improve hearing, speech


Randy Adams has had profound hearing loss
since he was a child. Here at Emory University Hospital Midtown,
he’s learning how to recognize sounds for the first time through
the use of a high-tech hearing device called a cochlear implant. Randy speaks through an interpreter. “I can hear it and I can feel it in the
ear.” As the technology evolves, cochlear implants
may one day be able to relay more nuanced sounds, like music. Still, even today, the device offers a much wider auditory window
than conventional hearing aids are capable of delivering. “Can you hear me?” “A little bit but you have a low voice.” “So good to hear your voice.” (keys jingle) “Soft. Not very loud.” “Yes, it’s very quiet.” The cochlear implant is not an instant fix
and must be fine-tuned as the patient learns to optimize its use. “It takes time. And everybody’s different in how much benefit that
that they get.” Cochlear implants have two parts: an audio
processor, which is worn on the head and the implant, which is surgically
placed in the inner ear. “We make an incision here.” “It’s typically an outpatient surgery—takes
a couple of hours and these people can come and go home the
same day.” Unlike a standard hearing aid, which only
makes sounds louder, a cochlear implant uses electrodes to stimulate
the spiral cavity of the inner ear called the cochlea. “These electrodes which are placed in the
inner-ear—in the cochlear they actually send electric signals to those
cells in the inner-ear and those signals and then transmitted through
the cochlear nerve to your brain and it’s like hearing.” Like his dad, the Adam’s young son Maxwell
is also deaf. He got his first cochlear implant at 10 months old. “And if children are implanted by 12 months
old, they do very well. They develop speech almost normally.” After his son’s procedure, Randy was inspired
to get his own implant. “So far, he seems to be hearing just fine
with his implant. Last month he finally learned how to say daddy
and recognize my voice.” Randy will undergo speech therapy, but progress
will be more difficult for him than his son. “We still have more to learn.” But still he’s betting that the implant
will enhance his life. “Hopefully with the cochlear implant things
will improve and we’ll find a better career and better job opportunities.” “He sounds so cute when he’s laughing.” “I can’t wait.”

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