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New Cochlear Implant Technology Gives Deaf People A 'New Ear'

By Kathy Walsh

LONE TREE, Colo. (CBS4) - A young man from Lone Tree, deaf since the age of 4, can now hear better than normal hearing people. That's because he recently got the very latest technology in cochlear implants.

"This is significantly more sophisticated," explained Allison Biever, AuD. She's an audiologist with Rocky Mountain Ear Center and was showing 26-year-old Nicholas Shortridge the Cochlear Nucleus 6 Sound Processor.

The Cochlear Nucleus 6 Sound Processor (credit: CBS)
The Cochlear Nucleus 6 Sound Processor (credit: CBS)

Shortridge has been deaf since he was 4 years old. He's had a cochlear implant for 22 years. On this day, he was getting what Biever called a "new ear." It's a streamlined outside piece or sound processor, the latest technology in cochlear implants. When he first tried it, Shortridge called the sound cleaner and smoother. Audiologist Biever explained the processor is truly wireless and includes Bluetooth capability. She went down the hall and called Shortridge's cellphone.

Nicholas Shortridge
Nicholas Shortridge with Allison Biever, AuD (credit: CBS)

"How does my voice sound to you right now?" she asked him over the phone.

"It sounds perfect, Allison," said Shortridge.

Shortridge is now one up on hearing people. He can tune out what hearing people can't.

"In the other cochlear, I could hear the fan. I could hear all these other distracting noises," Shortridge said.

"You can get rid of the background noise by turning this to 100 percent," explained Biever.

Cochlear Nucleus 6 Sound Processor
The remote for the Cochlear Nucleus 6 Sound Processor (credit: CBS)

Shortridge believes the new processor will change his life enormously. He is a pharmacy technician, hoping to become a pharmacist.

The new cochlear implant technology also includes a wireless, clip-on, mini microphone. It works great transmitting the sound of the professor in lecture halls and in one-on-one conversations.

Cochlear Nucleus 6 Sound Processor
(credit: CBS)

Shortridge is thankful that his once silent world is now a world of endless possibilities.

LINKS: cochlear.comRocky Mountain Ear Center

Kathy Walsh is CBS4's Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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