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Hearing Help for Adults Part of LVHN Cochlear Implant Program

Cochlear implant helps Sean Marrero enjoy work and music again

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Hearing Help for Adults Part of LVHN Cochlear Implant Program

For years, Sean Marrero thought his hearing was normal. Even when his husband complained that he set the television volume too high, Marrero, now 49, chalked it up to normal age-related changes.

That was until six years ago, when Marrero failed a hearing test for his job as a motor coach and party bus driver. He went on to use hearing aids for four years, but eventually, they weren’t enough.

“My aunt had gotten a cochlear implant and said it changed her life,” Marrero says. “She and my husband inspired me to look into that option.”

“The first step is seeing an audiologist, who will conduct a series of hearing tests to see if your hearing loss is significant and meets the criteria for a cochlear implant.” - Alicia Stanley, AuD

Marrero was referred to Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN), where his cochlear implant journey began.

Adult cochlear implant expertise, close to home

LVHN ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists have been performing pediatric cochlear implant procedures for more than five years, but they officially launched the health network’s adult cochlear implant program in 2021. Since then, the number of cochlear implant procedures performed at LVHN has tripled.

“Our program experienced the most growth of any cochlear implant center in the country last year,” says ENT specialist Sri Chennupati, MD, with LVHN. “Our program is also the region’s only member of the American Cochlear Implant Alliance, which provides access to the latest research and resources to benefit our patients.”

The journey to better hearing

Cochlear implants are an option for adults with moderate to profound hearing loss who have not benefited from hearing aids.

“The first step is seeing an audiologist, who will conduct a series of hearing tests to see if your hearing loss is significant and meets the criteria for a cochlear implant,” says audiologist Alicia Stanley, AuD, with LVHN.

Individuals who qualify then undergo testing to make sure they have the proper structures for the implant. They also meet with an ENT specialist and undergo pre-surgical testing prior to the procedure. About six weeks after the procedure, patients will see their audiologist again to have the cochlear implant activated (turned on) for the first time.

While Stanley says it can take six months to a year of at-home and audiologist-assisted training to hear properly with the implant, nearly all her patients experience a profound improvement in their lives.

Marrero’s back on the road

After being evaluated by Stanley, Marrero underwent cochlear implant surgery on his left ear with Chennupati in 2021. Over a year later, Marrero is back to work and hearing better than he has in decades.

Not only can he hear his passengers and loved ones better now, but he’s also back to listening to music – something he hasn’t enjoyed in years.

Cochlear implants

Cochlear Implants

Experiencing moderate to severe hearing loss? A cochlear implant may be able to help. Hear what you’ve been missing.

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