Letter writer: Meeting offers info on cochlear implants

Graphic by Lori Deaton

This year, cochlear implants are being done in Asheville for the first time!

Those of us who wear hearing aids know that they are not like glasses and need supplementing with other devices to do a good job. For those with severe hearing loss, hearing aids don’t even come close, even when supplemented. So it is important to see whether a different approach to hearing might be possible and effective.

More and more people among us are wearing cochlear implants. These have not been around very long, but they can be very effective, and it is easier to qualify than it used to be. Since implantation is surgery, it is seen by insurance as a medical procedure, and Medicare covers [it]. The surgery isn’t major, but any surgery has some risk, so the qualifying procedure is careful. Yet some of us with hearing aids envy the outcome when we encounter people wearing cochlear implants who express great satisfaction with them.

No, they aren’t perfect either, and yes, supplemental devices are still needed in some situations. But they do bypass those pesky hairs in the cochlea whose deficiencies, especially with age, are often the underlying cause of hearing loss. You have to get used to a new way of hearing, but when you do, the result can be life-transforming.

The Asheville chapter, also new this year, of the Hearing Loss Association of America, is meeting most months on the third Saturday at 10.30 a.m. in CarePartners’ Seymour Auditorium, 68 Sweeten Creek Road. At the next meeting, on Saturday, Nov. 21, cochlear implants will be the topic, and Beth Fountain, Au.D., engagement manager for Cochlear Americas, will talk about current requirements for this procedure as well as other implants.

This is not only important for those who might wear them, but — especially since otherwise deaf infants are being implanted so that many more children are growing up in the hearing world wearing cochlear implants — it is important for the rest of us to learn enough about them to appreciate their experience and be able to relate to them more fully.

All are welcome. There is free parking. And this time we are asking those who attend to please bring a small seasonal snack to share at our “snack-luck.” We are not meeting in December, so at our November meeting we hope to be a little festive at refreshment time!

Please contact me for more information at akarson57@gmail.com or at 665-8699.

— Ann Karson
President, HLAA-Asheville

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