Sound Brings Comfort and Joy

During the holidays we give thanks for what we have. Forty-two-year-old Michael Clark is thankful for something he didn’t have for 20 years – his hearing.

Michael is slowly regaining his hearing after receiving an Auditory Brain Stem Implant in August. CNC Hearing Neurotologist Moises Arriaga and Neurosurgeon Frank Culicchia worked together during the complex surgery at West Jefferson Medical Center that has restored sound to Michael’s world. He shares his inspirational journey in this video.

Video Transcript:

I’ve been going deaf for about 20 years. First on my right side and then on my left side.

Arriaga, MD: Michael suffers from a condition called NF two, which stands for Neurofibromatosis two. The hallmark of this condition is patients grow tumors on their hearing and balance nerves and sometimes on other nerves like their face nerve. When we operated on the left side, he had a tumor of his hearing imbalance nerve and the face nerve, and at the time of removal, we were successfully able to place a brainstem implant. We are bypassing not only the inner ear, but he also does not have a hearing nerve, so the implant goes all the way into the brain itself.

Culicchia, MD: As it got turned on, I looked at him and said, are you hearing anything? He got a big smile on his face and he says, what did you say?

Michael: With the ABI implant. I’m able to gauge safety in my environment again. I am more confident when leaving the house or doing things on my own with communication. It has helped me with reading lips, which is something I haven’t really been able to do since going deaf.

Susan:  He feels like he can go places, go to the store and he’ll hear, and being able to read lips better. He can understand what the cashier saying.

Culicchia, MD: As years have gone by with improving technology and improving experience, amazing things like this can be accomplished.

Susan : It would  start raining and he’s looking out the window for about a half hour or an hour, just listening to the rain. He said, I haven’t heard the brain in years

Arriaga, MD:  he’s gone from a completely silent world to now getting excellent sound input. He’s able to hear environmental sounds. It’s making him an excellent lip reader and frankly, giving how well he is doing. I expect him to be able to understand speech with this device as well.