Turning up the volume on a silent world

Couple having cochlear implants fitted

A unique service provided at the University of Southampton has enabled a couple to hear for the first time.

For 50 years Helen and Neil Robinson have lived in a silent world, but now they are enjoying sounds after being fitted with cochlear implants.

It was the first time the University of Southampton’s Auditory Implant Service (USAIS) had fitted the devices for a couple at the same time, and also highlighted the growing number of deaf people who are coming forward to have the procedure in later life.

Initially thought to only benefit those who had only recently lost their hearing or children in infancy, cochlear implants are now having tangible benefits for people who have been profoundly deaf for decades.

Deaf from birth, the couple has only ever communicated through sign language, lip reading and frustrating attempts to use hearing aids.

Exactly how much the pair will eventually be able to hear remains to be seen, but their experiences will help researchers shape future understanding about how the implants can benefit a less developed auditory system.

Professor Carl Verschuur, Director of USAIS, says:

We are very engaged in research and teaching as well as our staff being involved in the training of the next generation of audiologists. It means we also have the opportunity to interact with our patients who may want to help with our research by sharing their experiences. 

The couple are two of the 100 patients that are fitted with an implant each year at the centre. Since it was set up in 1990 over 1,100 people have successfully been fitted with cochlear implants by the Service – the regional centre for the south and the only one of its kind that is based at a university rather than at a hospital.

You can see Neil and Helen having their cochlear implants fitted by watching this video.

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