Arlene Romoff began losing her hearing during her college years. It continued to decline gradually until, almost thirty years later, she was left profoundly deaf. When hearing aids no longer worked for her, she elected to get a cochlear implant, a computerized device that stimulates the auditory nerve directly. In March 2008, her 10-year-old cochlear implant internal component failed. She had surgery to remove the old component and insert a new state-of-the-art component into her cochlea. Now, she has a new external processor as well - and new software. Being thoroughly modern and bionic, the new technology is even better than the old. With just a few weeks' experience, Arlene is already doing better in noise, with music and in general. "It's still not completely "normal" hearing, but incredibly good." She has now received an implant for the other ear and became bilateral, which enhances hearing in noise and directionality. Learn more about Arlene in her books and website.
On June 24, 2002, LaszLo was injured and became a C3 tetraplegic. Implanted almost one year to the date of his accident, he was the fourth recipient of the diaphragm pacer for breathing assistance. Laszlo has been off the ventilator 24 hours a day, seven days per week ever since he received the system. He described it as 'a true blessing'. The surgical procedure to implant the system is considered minimally invasive, and done on an outpatient basis. His surgery took about two hours. The diaphragm pacer consists of five hair thin wires; four that go from the chest down into the diaphragm with the fifth being an anode or ground wire. There are two electrodes attached at phrenic nerve motor points in each diaphragm. The wires are then tunneled through a connector on the chest going directly to the diaphragm pacer. It is a hardwired system. There is no transmitter. The electrodes contract and relax the diaphragm muscle used for breathing, independent of a typical ventilator system.
As an avid long distance cyclist, Maria was finishing a 40 mile ride one morning in the Bronx, New York when she was struck from behind by a car. That day she didn't get off her bike sore and exhilarated by her accomplishment; instead she got off her bike with a C5-6 spinal cord injury and quadriplegia. Life in New York as an architect was thrown into upheaval; after months in the hospital she found herself back in Ohio struggling just to turn on a computer. In March 2007, she received an implanted neural prosthesis hand system through the Cleveland FES Center, providing use of her left hand that was paralyzed as a result of the injury. Since then her self reliance has grown. She no longer carries around special silverware when going to restaurants because she can manipulate whatever is provided, even plastic. "I never really expected that I would put on my own makeup again, but I am quickly becoming a pro." She is now actively working toward a graduate degree in preparation for a new career as a professor. As a result of using the hand system, she unexpectedly found an outdoor activity, tennis. By firmly grasping the racquet using her device, she can hit the ball hard enough sending it over the net! Learn more about the Cleveland FES Center implanted hand system.
"I'm so pumped", are words directly from James when he speaks about using the exoskeleton at the PEAK Center of Craig Hospital. In 2010, James fell down a stairwell in his Colorado home and sustained a C7 incomplete spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed. Nearly two years later, he is continuing his rehabilitation in The Peak Center at Craig Hospital. But this is no everyday out-patient rehabilitation. James has a program rich in technology. He started the program by using FES cycling and then moved on to using the drop foot stimulation system after discovering motor recovery in his legs. Now, he is up and walking around with the assistance of an exoskeleton. "My first sit to stand, it was just a smile," reflecting on his first time using the system. James further describes the exoskeleton system as a tool to provide rehabilitation as well as a means of providing him with a sense of freedom. Using the exoskeleton at The Peak Center, he freely moves around the gym on his own. With sensation preserved, James can feel the walking motion. "Some people strive for retirement, I dream of walking." While using the exoskeleton as a vehicle for muscle motor memory, he is getting closer to his dream. Learn more about the Craig Hospital PEAK Center here.
Dr. Michael Chorost is an internationally known author on cochlear implants and social issues raised by advances in medical technology. He was born with severe hearing losses in both ears due to an epidemic of rubella. He did not learn to talk until he began to use hearing aids at age 3 1/2; which enabled him to grow up speaking English. In July 2001, he lost the remaining hearing in his one usable ear and got a cochlear implant shortly afterwards. This experience is chronicled in his book, Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human. He is now "Living in Stereo" when he received a second cochlear implant and now hears using two implants, one for each ear. Learn more about Dr. Chorost and his book.
Hand Function Restoration