Vi Flatt used to call her husband, Ray, her translator. That was before she received North America’s first Neuro System cochlear implant surgery at St. Paul’s Hospital.
“Amazing. It’s amazing,” said Flatt at the activation of her cochlear implant on September 27, one month post-surgery.
Flatt started wearing hearing aids about 35 years ago, and her hearing has been progressively deteriorating since then. At the age of 80, she has 25 per cent hearing with a hearing aid in her left ear. In her right ear – the ear that received the cochlear implant – she has been completely deaf for 10 years. A decade ago, the hearing in this ear worsened to the point where she could no longer wear a hearing aid.
“I once heard someone say that when you’re blind and unseeing, you’re cut off from things, but when you can’t hear, you’re cut off from people. And, I’ve certainly been cut off from people,” Flatt said.
For the past few decades, she has avoided going to social functions whenever possible because of the confusion that arises from being unable to hear and understand what is being said. Since having her implant activated, she has enthusiastically re-entered social life both with loved ones and by herself.
Saskatchewan woman receives first Neuro System cochlear implant surgery in North America
Flatt is the first patient in North America to receive this particular implant – the Neuro System – introduced by Oticon Medical to the Canadian market in August 2016. Saskatoon is one of five cities in Canada that is launching the implant. The other four include Ottawa, Quebec City, St. John’s and Toronto. Before its arrival to the North American market, the Neuro System had been offered in Europe for nearly a year in France, Germany and Denmark.
“The Neuro System is an innovative new cochlear implant system that takes a unique approach to sound processing, allowing the device to constantly analyze the cochlear implant user’s surroundings and automatically adapt to changes in listening conditions,” said Charles Dupuy, director of Oticon Medical Canada.
The ultra-compact implant has been designed to make surgery as simple and safe as possible. The ear, nose and throat surgeon who performed Flatt’s surgery, Dr. Nael Shoman, says all cochlear implants have a history of great success and are chosen by patients based on design, features and personal preference. This past summer, Dr. Shoman learned how to surgically implant the Neuro System to give his patients another option.
He says this is the first device he has been able to surgically implant into a patient in less than one hour as compared to other devices which can take two or more hours.
“It’s the thinnest on the market,” said Dr. Shoman of the device. “It’s so thin that you don’t have to drill into the skull to make it fit. Instead, you can put it underneath the skin and screw it in. It’s much more simple and fast.”
Post-surgery, Flatt looks forward to learning how to talk on the phone again, mingling in large crowds – without requiring her translator – and interacting with her two children, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Watch a video about Flatt’s experience to learn more.
About Oticon Medical
Oticon Medical is the second largest corporation in the world for hearing devices and hearing aids. The Neuro System was developed following a merger of Oticon Medical and Neurelec, a pioneer in cochlear implant technology that benefits people with severe to profound hearing loss. The integration of Neurelec’s cochlear implant expertise with Oticon’s strengths in audiology, signal processing and wireless technology, created the Neuro System.