Your Health August 1, 2013 Hearing Implants give new life to Al - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Your Health: Hearing Implants give new life to Alabaster man

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Birmingham, AL -

 A hearing impairment since birth has challenged, 40 year old Ryan Smith's communication, confidence and career.
     He was diagnosed with a hearing loss in elementary school.
     He had only 50 percent hearing ability upon graduation from high school.
     His hearing continued to fade over time...
 
     Ryan Smith says, "The first sounds that disappear are like soft sounds like SH and P and the things that make a word. So, you can hear people talking around you and you can hear them very loudly but you can't hear what you're saying. Because the soft letter words sounds disappeared so you start to get that but people are talking about and sometimes you're right and sometimes you're no where near it."

     Ryan and Tanya have been married 15 years.  
     She remembers him trying different types hearing aids including digital.

   Tanya Smith says, "He had a profound loss his audiologist recommended he go with larger hearing aids he did not want to do that so we went with the smaller ones and they made a huge difference still limitations come with them.

     Tanya still had to interpret what three year old Emma was saying, up until six to eight months ago.
 
     This active father of three is also teacher of many children in Jefferson County.
     Only Ryan can describe how his struggle to hear even with hearing aids made him feel.

      Ryan says, "It really makes me feel powerless it makes me feel unqualified it's humiliating to not be able to do the most simple task talk with the kids and listen."
     
       Now, a new type hearing implant has created a whole new world for Ryan Smith.
    
       Just last week, a Huntsville ENT Surgeon tuned out his 75% hearing loss and turned on his right hearing implant.
        You can barely see the scar behind his ear.
        It's not a cochlear implant.
     
       It's an invisible hearing device called Esteem.   It's the first surgically implanted active middle ear hearing device.
It's implanted rather than placed in the ear canal.  

    Ryan says, "What qualified me was the type of nerve damage I have Inside the cochlear you have tiny hairs That pick up the vibration and turn it into electric signals. Mine was simply worn out like a pair of old shoes."

   Smith had the hearing implant placed in his left ear back in November 2012.  It was turned on eight weeks later.
   The volume of the hearing implants is controlled by this remote.

     On top of having renewed hearing, the hearing implants have given him a renewed vision concerning his career.

  Ryan says, "I was on the verge of getting out of the teaching field and planning my exit."

  Another exciting thing, the Esteem hearing implants are waterproof.

 
  Ryan says he looks forward to opportunities to play with his kids and he looks forward to getting an umbrella when it's raining for my wife as she deserves so, I'm wet and she's not.  


 Tanya says, "For the first time we've been married he's going swimming with us."
 
 We watch as Ryan and his family takes a splash in the pool.
    His eleven year old daughter says her father just hears much better and she doesn't have to keep repeating herself. Also she and her eight year old brother, Jack can now splash him with water and get revenge on him for spraying them with the water hose.
 
     Noise!  Most folks would say, "Hold it down a bit."   
     Not Ryan Smith.

 Eight year old, Jack loves swimming with his father too.
Ryan Smith says, he finds a reason to go out in the rain now.
 The Smiths say the Esteem hearing implant doesn't restore hearing... 100 percent.
But the hearing implants work for this young, active father, teacher, and coach.

Tanya says she's really enjoys the experience of firsts with Ryan's.
Like hearing.. the coffee maker's beep, a squirrel scratching on wood, the dog breathing at night which Ryan says keep him awake.
 
The Smiths are so grateful that their insurance covered the hearing implants.  
Hearing aids were not covered.

There are batteries in the hearing implants that last 5 years.

 To learn more just click on this web site:  www.esteemhearing.com.

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