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“I was diagnosed with progressive sensorineural hearing loss 47 years ago, at age 28. I was a

Cochlear Implant Testimonial semiprofessional musician and singer at the time, but as my hearing loss progressed I gradually lost the ability to perform music, or even hear it in a recognizable way. As time passed I owned a succession of ever-more powerful and advanced hearing aids until eventually I could no longer understand speech. Ten years ago, with nothing left to lose, I decided on a cochlear implant. My first CI was a revelation; I understood speech almost immediately. Environmental sounds became normal in just a few weeks. My first CI was such a massive improvement that I signed up for my second the following year.The CI is a transformative technology that has, without exaggeration, given me back my marriage, my friends and my music. But while hearing with CIs seems fully normal to me almost always, I know their programming could still be improved and that UNC’s research team is hard at work doing that. So, I volunteered as a research subject. There are four reasons I’ve done this. First, I want to help Dr. Dillon and her team as they refine place-based mapping. I’m hopeful that these techniques will eventually become available for all CI patients, that acclimation to CIs will be accelerated and outcomes will improve for everyone. Second, the research sessions are not a burden; they’re a pleasure. I always learn something new, and interacting with the researchers is fascinating. Third, I’m hoping that as I recover my own sensation of music, the research team will learn how to help other musicians with CIs hear their music more fully and continue with their creative lives. And finally, I am deeply grateful for my own experience with CIs – surgically, clinically and in my everyday life, and this is a small way I can give something back.In order to further this work, my wife Janet and I created the Roy and Janet Smith Cochlear Implant Research Fund, administered by the UNC Health Foundation (#346109). Dr. Dillon tells me the fund is being put to good use.”