LONE TREE, COLORADO — During May’s Better Hearing and Speech Month, Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH), a leader in implantable hearing solutions, is pleased to celebrate Lou Ferrigno, 69, actor, fitness expert and retired bodybuilder, receiving a cochlear implant and addressing his hearing loss.
Taking the step to treat his profound sensorineural hearing loss with a cochlear implant will aid Ferrigno’s desire to remain fit and healthy as he ages.
Most known for his role in the TV series “The Incredible Hulk” and being the youngest, only two-time consecutive and Guinness World RecordTM holder for the IFBB Mr. Universe title, Ferrigno has been impacted by profound hearing loss nearly his whole life. Hearing loss started for him when he was a toddler because of ear infections, and he began wearing hearing aids at 4 years of age.
Over the years, Ferrigno tried a number of different types of hearing aids – none helping him achieve the hearing he needed. In February 2021, Ferrigno underwent surgery for his cochlear implant, the CochlearTM Nucleus® Profile™ Plus Implant.
His new hearing system was successfully turned on in March 2021. Ferrigno now hears the world with his Cochlear Kanso® 2 Sound Processor, the first off-the-ear cochlear implant sound processor with direct streaming from both Apple® and Android™ devices.*
“I worked very hard to speak and hear with hearing aids for so long, but I finally learned that with my profound hearing loss, the best hearing aid in the world was not going to give me the clarity in speech I needed at my level of loss. My cochlear implant has, so quickly, taken me to a new level of hearing. It’s like I’m reliving my life again. I can hear S’s. I’ve not been able to hear consonants clearly for so long, maybe ever. I have better diction and speech clarity already. Now, I don’t have to try so hard to hear”
Ferrigno describes the joy of being able to hear his wife, who whispered from 50 feet away in their home, after his implant was turned on. He is surprised by the little, ambient noises he can hear now too, like tapping and ticking of home appliances. And he is very much looking forward to hearing the cries of his new twin grandchildren.
“I heard a lot of misinformation about cochlear implants over the years, but a friend of mine received the device and went from 15 percent word understanding before the implant to 95 percent with the implant,” said Ferrigno. “I’m someone that has had profound hearing loss almost all my life, so if this cochlear implant is working for me already, it can give other people hope too. I wish I would have entertained a cochlear implant sooner. There is no shame in hearing loss and getting it treated.”
Ferrigno has been putting practice into his hearing therapy and rehabilitation as well, underscoring that like working out, hearing rehab takes work, practice and patience. He touts his commitment to rehabilitation, including using hearing therapy apps, watching online talks and movies, as being critical to his fast success with his cochlear implant, stating “The more you put into it, the better it is.”
Treating Hearing Loss with Cochlear Implants
In the United States, one out of three people over the age of 65 and half of people over 75 have disabling hearing loss, but only 5 percent of people who could benefit from a cochlear implant have them.1,2 Research continues to show aging adults with untreated hearing loss can be substantially affected by social isolation and loneliness with impacts to brain health and quality of life.3
Once hearing loss becomes severe to profound, cochlear implants are the only U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medical solution to treat it effectively. Research shows that moving from a hearing aid to a cochlear implant significantly improves hearing ability in noise, including doubling speech understanding.4 However, many adult cochlear implant candidates are not appropriately diagnosed, referred and treated.5
Adults who currently use hearing aids can try the Cochlear Hearing Aid Check, a free online hearing check tool, to learn if they may benefit from a cochlear implant. The Hearing Aid Check aims to help individuals compare their hearing performance with hearing aids to people with a cochlear implant, and depending on their results, to seek further hearing healthcare advice to treat their hearing loss.
“Cochlear implants are the standard of care for adults living with moderate to profound sensorineural hearing loss who are not adequately benefiting from their hearing aids,” said Dr. Brian Kaplan, cochlear implant surgeon, Chairman of Otolaryngology at Greater Baltimore Medical Center and Senior Vice President, Clinical Strategy and Innovation, Cochlear Limited.
“If you or a loved one are struggling to hear on the phone, constantly asking people to repeat themselves in conversation or avoiding noisy places like restaurants because of the inability to hear, it is time to set up an appointment with a cochlear implant audiologist to learn if you may be a candidate for a cochlear implant. Hearing loss is treatable and cochlear implants are a proven treatment option covered by insurance.”
— Dr. Brian Kaplan
Cochlear implants have been approved by the FDA for nearly 40 years and are covered by Medicare, most insurance plans and typically Medicaid.** Cochlear implants are available for adults of any age with moderate to profound hearing loss who no longer receive benefit from hearing aids.
Research shows the sooner an adult who is a cochlear implant candidate receives the device, the sooner they can benefit, including improved hearing outcomes.6,7
Cochlear offers consumers with hearing loss the ability to find a hearing implant specialist near them at www.Cochlear.us/FindAClinic.
About Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH)
Cochlear is the global leader in implantable hearing solutions. The company has a global workforce of more than 4,000 people and invests more than AUD$180 million each year in research and development. Products include cochlear implants, bone conduction implants and acoustic implants, which healthcare professionals use to treat a range of moderate to profound types of hearing loss. Since 1981, Cochlear has provided more than 600,000 implantable devices, helping people of all ages, in more than 180 countries, to hear.
1. Hearing Loss and Older Adults [Internet]. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders; c2017 [cited 19 Sept 2019]. Available from: https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing-loss-older-adults.
2. Market penetration. This figure is a global estimate based on Cochlear sourced data.
3. Brody, J. E. (2018, December 31). Hearing Loss Threatens Mind, Life and Limb. Available from: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/31/well/live/hearing-loss-threatens-mind-life-and-limb.html.
4. Buchman CA, Herzog JA, McJunkin JL, et al. Assessment of Speech Understanding After Cochlear Implantation in Adult Hearing Aid Users: A Nonrandomized Controlled Trial. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online August 27, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2020.1584
5. Buchman CA, Gifford RH, Haynes DS, et al. Unilateral Cochlear Implants for Bilateral Severe, Profound, or Moderate Sloping to Profound Sensorineural Hearing Loss. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2020. Epub ahead of print. doi: 10.1001/jamaoto.2020.0998.
6. Plant K, McDermott H, van Hoesel R, Dawson P, Cowan R. Factors Predicting Postoperative Unilateral and Bilateral Speech Recognition in Adult Cochlear Implant Recipients with Acoustic Hearing. Ear Hear. 2016 Mar-Apr;37(2):153-63. doi: 10.1097/AUD.0000000000000233. PMID: 26462170.
7. Derinsu U, Yüksel M, Geçici CR, Çiprut A, Akdeniz E. Effects of residual speech and auditory deprivation on speech perception of adult cochlear implant recipients. Auris Nasus Larynx. 2019 Feb;46(1):58-63. doi: 10.1016/j.anl.2018.06.006. Epub 2018 Jun 23. PMID: 29945747.
* For a full list of smartphone and app compatible devices, visit: www.cochlear.com/compatibility.
** Covered for Medicare beneficiaries who meet CMS criteria for coverage. Coverage for adult Medicaid recipients varies according to state specific guidelines. Contact your insurance provider or hearing implant specialist to determine your eligibility for coverage.
Lou Ferrigno is a paid brand advocate for Cochlear; however, medical treatment and health decisions were made independently by him and his hearing health provider.
The Cochlear Hearing Aid Check is not a diagnostic evaluation and is not intended to replace medical advice. For a complete test or evaluation of your hearing, please consult an audiologist.
Guinness World Record is a trademark of Guinness World Records Limited.
Apple is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
Android is a trademark of Google LLC.