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Going Bilateral continued from page 17 “Based on Ifirsthand experience, value and recommend availability of two cochlear implants for people who are severelyto-profoundly deaf plus speech therapy as a routine part of postsurgery rehabilitation. Going Bilateral: The Relevance for Others? In my research I found there are at least two major financial hurdles to bilateral cochlear implants. First, many people are uninsured. Second, a health insurance policy may not pay for any cochlear implant surgery or may cover only one implant. As far as I could find in my 2007 research, American insurers do not uniformly have current information on the benefits of bilateral implantation or on their legal obligations to provide payments for two cochlear implants. Encouragingly, scores of Fortune 500 companies now provide their employees with health insurance policies that will cover bilateral cochlear implantation. Much work remains to assure bilateral cochlear implantation as part of standard health insurance coverage. Based on firsthand experience, I value and recommend availability of two cochlear implants for people who are severely-to-profoundly deaf plus speech therapy as a routine part of post-surgery rehabilitation. Nan E. Johnson, Ph.D., is professor of sociology at Michigan State University. She was a founding member and the first chair of the Society and Persons with Disabilities, a standing committee in the American Sociological Association. Her research is on the social processes of disability, adoption d of assistive technologies, and recovery. g Dr. Johnson can be D reached at drnan re johnson@hot jo mail.com. m cochlear implant? One study found adults with two cochlear implants better able to localize sounds and to discriminate speech in both noisy and quiet places. “Head shadow” is one reason, because it lets you hear sounds at softer volume in the ear opposite the sound’s source and lets you separate signals from noises (Peters, 2006). Should I wait for future medical breakthroughs? Implantation of embryonic stem cells has allowed chickens, pigs, and dolphins to reproduce naturally the hair-like cells (cilia) in the inner ear that stimulate the auditory nerve. However, more research is needed to see whether the implantation of human embryonic stem cells will allow people to benefit in the same way. Since 2000, there has been a technological revolution in cochlear implants. Current cochlear devices have an external processor paired with an internal receiver. Technological advances may eliminate the external part. Also, a future design may include one internal bilateral device to serve both ears. Research is underway on a cochlear implant that is a ribbon-film with 128 electrodes instead of the current 22. The larger the number of electrodes, the broader is the frequency range recoverable by the cochlear implant recipient. This ribbon-film device is currently being tested on animals. It may become available for humans in four or five years. I decided not to wait for uncertain future breakthroughs in medical science. My second cochlear implant occurred almost three months after my first. ” I immediately began to detect the direction of sounds accurately (unlike Mark Ross, 2007). At first, the sound quality in my newer ear was robotic with “breaks” along the bandwidth. Therefore, gaining complex skills has been slower in my newer ear. To prevent my older ear from becoming permanently dominant, I performed many at-home and at-clinic exercises, using audio books and word lists, with only my newer processor turned on. My newer ear has regained the ability to distinguish individual words after 30 silent years. I spent about half of my individual therapy sessions in the development of telephone skills. I listened to word lists at the clinic over landline and cell phones. Several friends of both genders took turns providing me with daily word drills via cell phone. Thus I listened to a variety of voices and did not overburden any one friend. I have developed greater acuity over my (digital) cell phone than over the (analog) landline phone: both my cell phone and the external processor of my cochlear implant are digital. An audio loop gives me the significant advantage of hearing over my cell phone with both ears. We Want You! Tell us about your experiences with hearing loss in the workplace and be a part of Hearing Loss Magazine! Author submission guidelines can be found on our website at www.hearingloss.org. For more information, e-mail Editor Barbara Kelley at bkelley@hearingloss.org. The Journey Back to Stereophonic Hearing At my second activation, I was surprised that my “newer” ear immediately began distinguishing male from female voices. Crossover of signals from my “older” ear through the brain stem to my newer ear is the likely reason. 18 Hearing Loss Magazine http://www.mail.com http://www.hearingloss.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Hearing Loss Nov Dec 2009

Hearing Loss Nov Dec 2009

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