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7 November 2014
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Changing Lives


X ray of a cocklear implant
X ray of a cocklear implant

Changing lives - Alisa's story part four

As part of our Changing Lives series we follow Alisa as she has an operation to improve her hearing. Hear what happens the first time the implant is switched on.


Cochlear implants

  • A cochlear implant is a small, complex electronic device that can help to provide a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing.
  • Cochlear implants compensate for damaged or non-working parts of the inner ear.
  • When hearing is functioning normally, complicated parts of the inner ear convert sound waves in the air into electrical impulses.
  • These impulses are then sent to the brain, where a hearing person recognizes them as sound. A cochlear implant works in a similar manner.
  • An implant does not restore or create normal hearing. Instead, under the appropriate conditions, it can give a deaf person a useful auditory understanding of the environment and help him or her to understand speech.
  • The implant is surgically placed under the skin behind the ear.

30 year old Alisa Watson from Ledbury, who was born deaf, has decided to have an operation to give her a cochlear implant operation.

Picture of Alisa Watson
Picture of Alisa Watson

The operation is not without risks, as it will destroy what little hearing she has at the moment, and she doesn't how good her hearing will be after the treatment.

In the forth part of our changing lives feature Alisa talks about what it felt like to have the cocklear implant switched on.

She was warned that she shouldn't expect to understand speech straight away, and that the noises she hears will seem very strange.

At first everyone's voices sounded like ringing bells

"When someone spoke to me for the first time I was a bit taken back because it was just like a series of beeping noises, more like doorbells, and that's how I'd describe it.

"It was a bit of an anticlimax just to hear a series of doorbells and I had no way of knowing if that doorbell was noise associated with someone talking, or someone knocking on the door or someone laughing or a car revving."

"They all sound the same - just a high pitched ringing noise.

"The audiologist was really pleased because that meant I was receiving signals in my brain, but for me it was like another form of tinnitus, and I was quite gutted really.

"I came away thinking I hope this gets better because this is not what I wanted to hear."
Alisa Watson

"I came away thinking I hope this gets better because this is not what I wanted to hear.

"But the audiologist was very reassuring and kept saying that it would get better, I just had to give my brain time to understand all the impulses being sent to it.

Hear what happened when Alisa's cochlear implant is switched on for the first time
audio Changing Lives - Alisa's story part five >
Audio and Video links on this page require Realplayer

"It has been a massive step back, and it's been really hard having people come up to me and ask if my hearing has improved, because the only answer I could give was no."

We will continue with Alisa's story tomorrow to see if her hearing does improve.

last updated: 29/03/06
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