An Audiologist Becomes a Cochlear Implant Patient As a PhD student in audiology at The University of Memphis, experiencing cochlear implantation from both a professional—and patient—perspective is a rare opportunity. Two years ago, I was a master’s student in audiology at The University of Georgia learning about cochlear implants (CIs). At that time, colleagues and family members ... Feature sidebar
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Feature sidebar  |   February 01, 2002
An Audiologist Becomes a Cochlear Implant Patient
Author Notes
  • Samuel R. Atcherson, is a PhD student in audiology at The University of Memphis. Contact him by email at satchrsn@memphis.edu.
    Samuel R. Atcherson, is a PhD student in audiology at The University of Memphis. Contact him by email at satchrsn@memphis.edu.×
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Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants & Assistive Technology / Feature sidebar
Feature sidebar   |   February 01, 2002
An Audiologist Becomes a Cochlear Implant Patient
The ASHA Leader, February 2002, Vol. 7, 21. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR2sb.07022002.21
The ASHA Leader, February 2002, Vol. 7, 21. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR2sb.07022002.21
As a PhD student in audiology at The University of Memphis, experiencing cochlear implantation from both a professional—and patient—perspective is a rare opportunity.
Two years ago, I was a master’s student in audiology at The University of Georgia learning about cochlear implants (CIs). At that time, colleagues and family members approached me about whether the CI was appropriate, but I was unsure if I even wanted the implant. In my mind, I dealt with my fears about the implant, my identity as a person with hearing loss, and my ability to practice audiology independently. I was sure I could be of assistance to individuals with hearing loss and to the academic/research audiology communities without a CI, but I worried that the technology would not work for me, knowing that I would lose residual hearing. I had been a relatively successful user of hearing aids with a progressive hearing loss of 23 years after my loss was diagnosed at age 3 of unknown cause. As my hearing loss progressed, I had a lot of time to think about cochlear implantation.
In May 2001, I began to lose a noticeable amount of speech discrimination ability. Panic struck, but I was able to keep a level head with my audiology background. No longer did I worry about my identity or my future career—I made the decision to pursue implantation. I assured myself that I had everything to gain and not much to lose. As part of the candidacy process, my hearing loss was recently diagnosed as the result of bilateral large vestibular aqueducts. I was elated to learn of this condition, which was made possible by CT scans.
I was granted candidacy at the House Ear Clinic in Los Angeles on July 13, 2001, and had surgery 10 days later.
On the day of activation, the sounds that I heard were not anything I anticipated or expected. I could barely make out voices and environmental sounds, but I was hearing! It was as if I was in a hard-walled cave, with sounds bouncing around in my head and blending together. It was actually quite disappointing. Within a few hours, sounds became more meaningful, but I knew I still had a long way to go.
The cochlear implant doesn’t sound that different from my hearing aids, but it does give me more sound information. With the implant, high-frequency speech cues are restored and softer sounds are audible. Today, after five months of use and a few months of aural rehabilitation, my voice quality has improved. I am able to take some notes in class, and I experience less fatigue and eyestrain. Also, I can hear subliminally while taking a nap, and I have become quite a chatterbox with my new cell phone.
I feel much more confident about clinical practice as an audiologist. My goals are to engage in clinical practice after graduation and then return to academia to teach and conduct research.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
February 2002
Volume 7, Issue 2