In cohesion with International Cochlear Implant Day 2017, the University of Southampton Auditory Implant Service (USAIS), has welcomed its first married couple to receive simultaneous implants.
USAIS is based at the University of Southampton and serves as a regional cochlear implant centre for the South of England. Around 1, 100 of the UK’s 13,000 recipients of cochlear implants received them at them through USAIS.
Married couple, Neil and Helen Robinson both had implant surgery in November 2016 and returned to USAIS in January to have their implants activated at the same time. The couple, who are now in their 50s, have both been deaf since birth. A processor on the outside of the skull sends information to electrodes in the inner part of the implant which causes pulses of electricity to be sent to the brain, which deciphers these pulses into sound.
Speaking about the implant, Helen said:
“I think it’s given me some more confidence in myself. I’m still deaf. If I take the implant receiver off, I’m still deaf but I have a strong identity and I think its more confidence.
I like listening to the kettle when it’s boiling; I like to hear that. And walking, with footsteps. Before, there was nothing so now I can hear myself walking. It is different.”
Neil spoke about the effect of the implant on his day to day life:
“The gift of sound – that gives independence.
“One morning when I went to the church, I was hearing this beep-beep, beep-beep and I realised maybe it was birdsong. My friend who’s hearing came up and said good morning. I said, ‘What I’ve been listening to, is it the birds singing?’ And he said, ‘Hang on a minute. Oh yes! You can hear that?’ Yeah, shocked it was the first time.”
Dr Carl Verschuur, Director of the AIS, said that the effects of implant surgery can reach beyond the physical ability to hear.
“If you treat hearing loss effectively, that can have a hugely positive influence on people’s relationships as well.”