New Cochlear technology helping patients hear again

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – Some folks may soon be hearing out of their iPhones a little bit better.

The new Nucleus 7 sound processor can now stream sound directly from an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. That’s of course for folks with cochlear implants.

Lafayette now has a team of doctors who are bringing that technology to Acadiana.

Doctor of Audiology Kimberly Allred, with the ACI Hearing & Balance Center in Lafayette, works with patients before and after cochlear implant surgery.

“It’s for somebody that really performs less than about 50 percent speech understanding ability. It’s your next step beyond hearing aids,” Allred said.

Ear, Nose and Throat specialist Dr. Jimmy White then performs the surgery.

“The electrode come down into the middle ear space until it gets to the inner ear, the cochlea, and the little electrode wraps around within the cochlea,” White said.

Dr. Steve Butaud underwent cochlear implant surgery last January.

It’s a field he’s familiar with, working as an ENT specialist for 30 years.

He said he’s happy with his implant, but it’s been hard relearning how to hear again.

“You hear, everybody talks robotic. This is how they sound, everyone. There’s no inflection in the voice. You can’t identify a voice,” Butaud said.

“Because you’re relearning a different way to hear the brain does take some time to adapt, which is very normal,” Allred said.

It can take patients six months to get their full hearing back.

“They get frustrated, they pull back from what they enjoy, from their friends and family, from conversation,” White said.

But Butaud said once hearing does comes back, it’s life changing.

“I was not going to parties, I didn’t like it, I couldn’t talk to people. I was just shying away from all of that. Now I go. I’m gone. I’m full speed ahead again,” Butaud said.

The new N7 processor also allows folks to control and customize sounds directly from their Apple device. The N7 processor will be released in September.

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