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November 14, 2005

Cochlear Implants and Music

From:, NC - Nov 14, 2005

By Tisha Powell

(11/14/05 -- CHAPEL HILL) - For 30 years, cochlear implants have been giving the profoundly deaf the ability to hear. New technology is now allowing them to bring music back into their lives.

Christine Alexander, 71, hasn't been able to hear for more than 10 years. She recently had surgery to receive a cochlear implant, a small electronic device placed inside the ear to assist the brain into understanding speech.

Alexander's surgeon, Dr. Harold Pillsbury at UNC Hospitals, says cochlear implants help people like Alexander regain their lives.

"It's just wonderful to be able to take somebody from the closed-out world and put them back in the world of communication and activity that makes like worth living," Pillsbury said.

One thing that cochlear implant patients cannot enjoy is music. But a new implant, made by Durham-based Medel, is making it happen.

"It has enough of a channel interaction in it that instead of hearing little bits that make you understand speech," Pillsbury said. "It actually has more of a flow to it that allows you to perceive music."

Alexander now plans to spend lots of time catching up with family.

"I can talk to them more now," she said. But most of all, Alexander wants to go back to church to hear her pastor and the music she hasn't been able to hear for so long.

Copyright ©2005 ABC Inc., WTVD-TV Raleigh/Durham.