The Sound of Freedom

  • Can we restore freedom of choice with a hearing implant?

    Being deaf in a world of hearing could severely limit your options in life in everything from career and education to hobbies and socialising.

    It is crucial to understand how to hear from the start

    It's easy to take hearing for granted if it's something you've performed easily and naturally. But research shows that the loss or absence of this key sense is potentially far more impactful than most people could ever imagine.

    The challenges of being deaf can be daunting at any age. For children born deaf, these challenges begin almost immediately. Deafness affects babies' communication development when they begin to begin to learn to speak by hearing and copying sounds. It can be very dangerous if not addressed quickly.

    Listening helps children develop the ability to use sentences and words to communicate their thoughts and emotions. The brain of a child is geared for speech and language development during the first years of life. This helps to lay the foundation for communicating in the adult world. The brain's ability to learn by listening is greatly impaired if it isn't stimulating the auditory pathways.

    Obstruction to learning

    The ability to communicate is essential for education. Children who have hearing loss that is not treated are more likely to have lower results in writing, reading, spoken language and maths because even mathematical concepts need to be explained in a the language of spoken. This is true even in advanced nations and can be seen in academic results. Despite constant improvement, 2016 UK government statistics showed that 59% of students who are deaf did not pass five of the GCSE exams - national exams that are taken by 16-year-olds as compared to 36% for hearing children.

    A poor score on an exam could limit your options for career. Many studies show that people with hearing impairment have lower incomes and are at a higher risk of losing their jobs. In 2015, national US research in medical journal Otology and Neurotology discovered that those with a mild hearing loss were twice as likely to be unemployed and one-and-a-half times as likely to have an income that was lower than those with normal hearing. In 2016, the American-US study found that deaf and hearing people were able to earn earnings of up to 40 percent across all age groups and educational levels.

    Hearing implants can counteract this poor-performance-phenomenon

    There are positive aspects. There's good news. Hearing implant surgery is able to reduce the gap between deaf and hearing people. Numerous studies have proven that the earlier a child who is deaf is implanted, the better their speech and language skills, with some suggesting that children implanted prior to their first birthday will be able to speak and use language as well as their peers who can hear normally. This probably goes some way towards explaining why children who have implants are more likely to attend mainstream school particularly if they are implanted earlier. Ear and Hearing Journal conducted an investigation in 2013 of 175 children. They discovered that eight of 10 children who had received cochlear implants (CIs) prior to 18 months were in mainstream education as opposed to six of ten who received CIs placed after three.

    From the Beginning

    The advantages of having an early implantation, and the reasons why it is sensible.Hearing doesn't just enhance chances for academic success, but also for quality of life. It allows children to communicate with others and aids in the development of social abilities. Additionally, it allows them the freedom to choose among a wide range of options, such as music, drama and sports. A systematic review conducted by Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery in 2016 revealed implanted children had higher scores on quality-of-life indicators than other children with hearing loss.

    Some CI users can even choose their preferred career direction

    A study from 2004 revealed that a lot of children who have CIs ultimately find employment.

    Gemma Mole, a Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham hearing specialist, has also experienced the positive effects of implanting. "Many sufferers who lost their hearing in adulthood take on roles that do not require any contact with the public, telephone use, or even meetings. When they are able to communicate they are often able to assume more responsibility and might even change their careers. One woman I treated aspired to publish novels. She now teaches creative writing courses all around the world, something she wouldn’t have been capable of doing prior to now.

    This is the kind of thing Chuckie Butler (a police officer from Evansville in Indiana) is familiar with. Chuckie, who was partially deaf since the age of one because of meningitis, was able to wear hearing aids for a number of many years. But shortly after joining police, his hearing in his right ear became too bad, and he was able to no longer fulfill his childhood dream of becoming an officer in the police force. My department was very supportive, but I was quickly removed and forced to limit my responsibilities. It was one the worst feelings I had ever experienced. "I knew that I had to figure out ways to make it work otherwise I wouldn't be able continue my duties as an officer" he recalls.

    Chuckie was afflicted with an CI implanted in his right ear back in 2003. It took several months for him to heal and be able again to perform normal tasks. He still uses a hearing aid in the left ear.

    "The implant has allowed me to achieve success as a cop officer." Since then, I've been awarded Officer of the year seven times.
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    Chuckie Butler - CI user, Indiana USA police officer

    He now can hear well on the phone, radio and in noisy places. "The implant has allowed me to excel as a police officers. "I've been named Officer of the Year seven times since the implant was installed," he said. He is an instructor in emergency vehicle operation and firearms, and a trainer for instructors. The CI he has is the ability to confidently speak to large groups of people.