IM this article to a friend!

November 15, 2003

Dianne ready to be 'switched on'

From: Advertiser, Australia - Nov 15, 2003

WHEN Dianne Wormleighton is "switched on" tomorrow, she will enter a new world of sound as the state's 100th adult cochlear implant patient.

With severe and profound hearing loss in both ears, Dianne is looking forward to the sound of fizzy drinks, of birds, of her husband Terry's voice – but most of all the sweet sound of her 10-year-old daughter Louise singing.

As part of final preparations for switching on the implant, by Flinders Medical Centre audiologist Nina Swiderski, Dianne met the state's first adult cochlear implant recipient, Shirley, Ackehurst, 44, who received hers in 1986 and said it changed her life.

"I lost half my hearing when I contracted mumps aged 11 and by age 36 I had virtually no hearing," she said.

"The implant totally changed my life – I used to be withdrawn and shy, feeling isolated, but now I love to hear the birds, the wind, footsteps, rain and the sound of my grandchildren."

FMC is the state's only centre for adult cochlear implants.

Most cochlear recipients will gather at Botanic Park next Sunday for a picnic to celebrate the milestone.

The oldest patient to receive an implant in SA was aged 81.

Ms Swiderski said the changes could be startling.

"We get some enormously grateful families, often there is not a dry eye in the clinic when they are turned on," she said.

Dianne, 52, has worn hearing aids all her life but her hearing deteriorated to a point that sound is little more than a blur.

While the implant will not give her perfect hearing, it should give her functional hearing such as being able to talk on the telephone instead of using a tele-typewriter relay service.

Dr Robert Morrissey performed the implant surgery several weeks ago and it will be switched on now the swelling has subsided.

"I am very excited and am looking forward to things like hearing birds, listening to voices and hearing my daughter Louise singing," Dianne said.

How does the cochlear implant work?

Cochlear implants are surgically implanted under general anaesthesia. An electrode array (receiver/stimulator) is inserted into the shell-like structure in the inner-ear, the cochlear.

External components are fitted (worn) after the incision heals and the implant is programmed to meet the individual hearing needs of a patient.

Sounds are picked up by a microphone and sent via a thin cable to a speech processor which codes sounds sent back up the cable to the transmitting coil. It passes the coded signal through the skin to the implant which transforms the signal to electrical pulses.

The pulses pass from the electrode array and stimulate hearing nerve fibres within the cochlear.

© Advertiser Newspapers Ltd