Meandering Through A Hearing World: Technology Advances to Help with Hear Loss!

Isn’t it wonderful how technology has advanced? At my age, sixty-four, I’ve gone from black and white TVs with three available stations to televisions with beautiful high-definition color, and a multitude of stations and streaming options. Phones have advanced from the hanging-on-your-kitchen wall sort to sleek devices that you carry, giving you continuous access to friends, family, and business associates. We can text, email, chat online, and post the finer aspects of our lives on social media. What a wonderful world.

Much of this technology has helped those with hearing loss. Now people with severe to profound hearing loss can purchase custom built digital aids, programmed to their specific needs. Cochlear Implants have come a long way since they were first used in the 1980s. They now have digital and connectivity capabilities not thought of when they were first introduced. It all makes me wonder if technology will help those of us with hearing loss hear as well as a person with normal hearing.

I am currently in the queue for a cochlear implant, a technology I have resisted for many years. With my profound hearing loss, I discovered I only hear three percent of what is being said in noisy environments. My hearing is at the point where even the best high-end digital aids can no longer help.

I have always worried about getting a cochlear implant because once the decision is made there is no going back. When my audiologist first suggested that a cochlear implant would help, I immediately said no. What if hearing aid technology advances such that a hearing solution is found without the need for surgery? It won’t happen in your lifetime I was told. It took some time, but I’ve come to accept that I need to trade one technology for another.

In working with the staff at University of Miami, I’ve made some amazing discoveries about cochlear implants. All implants have single processor technology, which improves sound quality in noise. Most are equipped with Bluetooth technology which allows connectivity with phones, I-pads, and televisions or any other devices with Bluetooth. All have directional microphones which improves speech recognition in noise. Recently, Cochlear and Apple partnered on technology providing a direct link between Cochlear’ s implant and a new technology to better connect with IPhones. Talking on the phone has always been a challenge for those with severe to profound hearing loss. I was happy knowing about this improvement.

Research and technology advancements will continue to happen in both hearing aids and cochlear implants. Both devices will improve over time. To what point is anyone’s guess. But I remain hopeful that someday, those suffering hearing loss can be brought to a level of hearing we couldn’t otherwise imagine.