Check out the article from Vanderbilt University here. Their hope is that this will greatly improve recipients' abilities to understand speech.
The research team aims to increase sound quality and also improve upon spectral resolution. This is when the brain takes complex sounds and breaks them down into individual parts-- a process people with normal hearing have little problem doing. A bionic ear, however, struggles with this, often causing speech clarity, especially in noisy settings, to be challenging and exhausting.
So far, participants in the study are calling the results "life-changing." Even CI users who were happy with their electronic hearing before claim that their hearing after the study is even better.
If you've been reading my blog, you know my top reason to get the CI was to understand speech as effortlessly as possible-- without looking, without lip-reading, in the dark, on the phone, in the car. But it hasn't happened for me... not yet.
After almost a year, to be struggling with speech recognition is frustrating. But this study, THIS WONDERFUL STUDY, is giving me hope. And of course, I've emailed Vanderbilt... several times. (VANDERBILT: If you're reading this... PICK ME!) I would LOVE the opportunity to work with their research team.
If I can't though, I'm hopeful the results of this study will be a game changer for cochlear implant recipients.
My friend Jennifer, a Tennessee native and an amazing connection for me via the power of Facebook, is one of the study's lucky participants. Jennifer was the first hearing impaired person I reached out to when I began exploring treatments for my hearing loss. I stumbled upon her profile on a website that listed "hearing impairment mentors." In Jen's profile, she identified herself as a cochlear implant recipient, as well as a busy mother and an extreme social butterfly. I sensed a match for me.
I wrote to her and she responded with one of the kindest, encouraging messages an in-the-closet hearing impaired person could receive. Little did I know that Jennifer is truly a rock star in the cochlear implant world; she is very knowledgeable about treatments and assistive technology, she is an incredible advocate for people with hearing loss, and she is a shining spirit who gains followers wherever she goes.
Now she is providing an INCREDIBLE service by blogging about her experiences in the Vanderbilt study. I'm sharing her blog, Journey to Sound, in case someone is out there who like me, wonders if speech clarity will ever come.
I hope this study, and Jen's experiences, bring as much hope to YOU as it has brought to me. Miracles happen every day. Let's keep hoping!