Hearing Awareness Week : Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children call on people to have hearing checked

Happy as Barry: Mr Metz is all smiles after receiving cochlear implants. Photo: Matt Attard
Happy as Barry: Mr Metz is all smiles after receiving cochlear implants. Photo: Matt Attard

Port Macquarie man Barry Metz was facing a potential future with deafness. 

Cochlear implant technology however, has transformed his life.

It is Hearing Awareness Week – a perfect time to have your hearing checked.

In Australia, one in six people have some form of hearing loss. This number is projected to increase to more than one in four by 2050. 

But like Mr Metz, those battling hearing loss can benefit from solutions ranging from hearing aids to cochlear implants.

Almost 116,000 Australians aged 45 and over are estimated to be at risk of severe to profound hearing loss. 

It is a fate Barry was faced with after an explosion in the military many years ago left him with hearing difficulties.

"I first became aware of my hearing loss in 1979. I had an audiometer test. I found out it would continue to deteriorate over time," he said.

"As your hearing deteriorates, your relationship with your significant other becomes more difficult. That was the driving force for me to get some improvement."

His wife suggested a cochlear implant but Mr Metz resisted at first.

"I thought it was some kind of robotic attachment and I wasn't interested," he laughed. 

"This was in November 2015. My hearing was at about 20 per cent."

The cochlear implant

The cochlear implant

A volunteer with the Rural Fire Service, Mr Metz was on duty in Tasmania when a colleague suggested he explore the idea of cochlear implants.

"A fellow volunteer happened to know a thing or two about cochlear implants. He was a senior nurse from the ear and throat clinic," Mr Metz explained. 

"There is a long and drawn out process before it's determined whether someone is suitable and likely to be successful."

He had the implants in July 2016 and after months of hard work his hearing has improved.

"It isn't just a case of switching the device on and away you go. You have to learn all new sounds and store it to your memory," he said.

"They call it rerouting your brain. Imagine only hearing an eighth of a guitar riff, and then eventually you build up through hard work and you can hear the whole note."

This year, Hearing Awareness Week coincides with International Cochlear Implant Day and World Hearing Day.

This story Cochlear implant music to Barry’s ears first appeared on Port Macquarie News.