A 24-year-old Hears His Own Voice for the First Time

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Jill Chadwick

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             Sylvester Ribaudo has only been able to hear very loud and mostly high pitched sounds his whole life. He had never heard a conversation or even his own voice until this week when doctors turned on a cochlear implant. A cochlear implant is a medical device surgically implanted to help a person hear by doing the work of damaged parts of the inner ear.  Sylvester says he was told as a child that the hairs that carry sound were ‘bent’ inside his ear.  Recently, what little hearing Sylvester had at birth began to diminish and that is why he decided to get the implant. Sylvester depends on reading lips to make conversation.  His speech is very good despite his hearing loss because his parents put him in speech therapy classes at age three and he kept it up for 14 years. Listen to his reaction when the doctor turns on the hearing implant.  Sylvester’s implant is high-tech and he can control the volume using his smart phone.  His hearing is now like a ‘newborn’s ear’ and he says he’s looking forward to learning what things sound like … like running water.