MU Health Care Offers New Solution for Hearing Loss
MU Health only provider in state to offer new fully implantable hearing device
Approximately 15 percent of American adults experience hearing loss, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Recognizing that hearing aids and cochlear implants may not suit all patients, University of Missouri Health Care has become the only health system in the state to offer patients a new implantable hearing device — one that restores natural hearing and is invisible to the naked eye.
“Hearing loss is unfortunately a major public health issue,” said Arnaldo Rivera, MD, neurotologist at the MU ENT, Hearing and Balance Center and an associate professor of otolaryngology at the MU School of Medicine. “While many people need assistive technology to restore their hearing, the stigma often associated with wearing a hearing aid or cochlear implant can keep many people from seeking help. At MU, we now are able to offer patients a fully implantable hearing device to restore their hearing.”
The fully implantable device is designed to work with the ear’s natural acoustic properties by allowing sound to enter through the outer ear and travel down the ear canal to the eardrum. The device converts the vibrations from the eardrum into electrical signals that are intensified and transferred to the inner ear. Cochlea cells are then stimulated, resulting in a more natural sound.
Bob Dickhaus is one of approximately 26 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 who have high-frequency hearing loss due to exposure at work or during leisure activities. After years of working in industrial settings, the Hamilton, Ohio-based electrical contractor’s hearing gradually deteriorated.
“My hearing declined over the years, and I was getting to the point where my hearing aids were maxed out,” Dickhaus said. “I don’t like being in situations where I can’t hear. I would lie in bed at night and just feel uneasy because I couldn’t hear.”
Dickhaus had the device implanted in his left ear about four years ago in Chicago. After tiring of relying on his left ear for hearing, he decided to have the device put in his right ear. He sought out Rivera, and traveled to the MU ENT, Hearing and Balance Center to have the device implanted in his right ear. On Dec. 16, 2015, Dickhaus became the first patient at MU to have the device implanted.
Because the device is fully implanted, it allows the wearer to enjoy an active lifestyle. Unlike hearing aids, the device is waterproof and can be worn in the shower or while swimming.
“I love having it,” Dickhaus said. “You can swim, shower and do just about everything with it. It’s extremely versatile and has really helped me in my day-to-day life.” For more information on the device and MU’s hearing services, please call 573-882-7903 or visit www.muhealth.org/MUENT.
The MU ENT, Hearing and Balance Center provides a wide spectrum of specialized ear, nose and throat services. The center is home to the latest technology in the evaluation and treatment of complex ENT, hearing and balance disorders.
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