Cochlear implant group

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Helen Wallis
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The loss of hearing can be disconcerting but some normality can be achieved with a cochlear implant.

A group of people with the implants have started a group called Ashburton Cochlear Companions to help people who have, or are thinking of getting the implant.

They will meet this Saturday and are keen to see others who may benefit from attending. They plan to have monthly meetings.

Group organiser Helen Wallis said a few locals got together and decided they needed a group to discuss problems, issues and just chat.

‘‘It is journeying together and just being supportive to each other,’’ she said.

One lady has had a cochlear implant put in last week and it can be a difficult time, ‘‘because you can’t hear at all for the first three months, all you hear is noise, it’s a learning curve,’’ Helen said.

The implant is attached on the outside of the head to a magnet on the inside which connects to electrodes into the ear’s cochlear which simulate the cochlear nerves through to the brain.

Helen has had her implant for a year and can now hear but ‘‘it will never be like normal hearing, it is hearing things differently.’’

Cochlear implants are used when normal hearing aids aren’t strong enough to work.

They are used by anyone of any age, including children born with faulty cochlear or others through meningitis that can effect hearing.

Helen had an ear infection for over 70 years.

‘‘I’ve had dozens of surgeries, constant antibiotics, it went on and on and the ear drum was badly damaged, it gets to the point where you can’t hear enough for ordinary living.’’

Cochlear implants cost around $50-60 thousand but there are Ministry of Health grants available for people who meet requirements.

Helen described having cochlear implant as an individual journey.

‘‘Every single person is different.’’

The group is open to people with a cochlear implant, their supporters and partners.

Anyone who is considering having an implant or would like to know more information are also welcome.

One of the key functions of the group is to just talk, regular conversation is important for people with implants.

‘‘The support system afterwards is just fantastic up in Christchurch, in terms of therapy, but you need to have lots of conversation, so it is capturing that opportunity for conversation, I haven’t had enough conversation practice,’’ Helen said.

Anyone interested in attending this weekend’s meeting or would like more information can contact Helen on 027 221 3701.