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Bridge to Sound with a 'Bionic' Ear

Bridge to Sound with a 'Bionic' Ear

RATING: (3 of 5 ears)
AUTHOR: Cynthia Farley
PUBLISHER: Periscope Press
ISBN: 0-9178546-0-2
COST: US$19.85 / CAN$27.95 (softcover)

REVIEWER: Hilary Shanin, AuD, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center

SYNOPSIS: This book is a compilation of information about cochlear implants and stories of those who have received cochlear implants. It is geared toward patients considering cochlear implantation and their families. The information offered is positive and encouraging. A review of hearing loss and different types of cochlear implants is provided in the first section. The "Supporting Evidence Section" consists of press releases, studies and interviews with professionals who specialize in cochlear implants.

Parents of cochlear implant users and those who have undergone cochlear implantation write the remainder of the text. Their stories are enlightening and inspiring. Most narratives include a frank discussion of the patient's struggles with hearing loss and fears about surgery and implantation. Realistic expectations are also imparted. These success stories are upbeat, touching and reveal clear insight on how a cochlear implant improved quality of life.

REVIEW: The title "Bridge to Sound with a 'Bionic' Ear" may suggest this book is an advertisement for Advanced Bionics. Clearly, it is not. It is much more an introduction to all types of cochlear implants and stories of those who have received a cochlear implant. The text is well organized and easy to read. Its first section reviews the epidemiology and social impact of hearing loss. Included is a basic discussion of the history of cochlear implants, cochlear implant candidacy and cochlear implant technology. Pictures of the Clarion CII Bionic Ear, Nucleus system and Med El system are provided. The surgical procedure of implantation is also detailed.

In the second section, "Supporting Evidence Section," there are press releases and articles that have been published regarding improvement in quality of life and benefits with use of a cochlear implant. The text is derived or reprinted from various sources such as Johns Hopkins Medical Center, The American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, University of Michigan and The New York Times. All articles are supportive of cochlear implantation. In addition, the section includes transcripts of interviews with cochlear implant experts Dr. Samuel Levine, Neurotologist, Sharon Smith, Au.D., Audiologist, and Dr. James Battey, Director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

The next 300+ pages of the book are dedicated to testimonials and stories of those who are either parents of children with cochlear implants or cochlear implant users themselves. The stories are sectioned by age group, starting with "Children's Stories." In "Children's Stories" parents recount how their child was identified as hearing impaired and the process of pursuing cochlear implantation. Parents are candid about how difficult it was for them to cope with their child's hearing loss. They are grateful for the "gift of sound" provided by a cochlear implant.

There are 16 stories written by "Teenagers and Twenty-somethings." These young people share their accomplishments and experiences with use of a cochlear implant. Their stories are extremely positive. Quotes include: "I ANSWER THE PHONE," "All Things Are Possible With My Implant" and "The cochlear implant was the best thing that has ever happened to me."

In "Adults' Stories" and "Seniors' Stories," writers share their struggle with hearing loss. Many express how they had felt isolated and dependent because of the inability to hear. Some disclose a history of the progression of their hearing loss and the journey toward cochlear implantation. Adults provide insight regarding expectations of cochlear implant use. For example, some describe how they felt after surgery and their initial "hook-up" experience. Limitations and advantages of cochlear implants are imparted.

The final section of the book is a resource guide. The resource guide includes a list of organizations that relate to hearing loss and cochlear implants and a directory of cochlear implant centers by state.

CRITIQUE: This book is an easy read. Information regarding cochlear implants is revealed in layman's terms and is suitable for the patient population. However, the stories are equally self-serving as they are informative and encouraging. It is clear that these people feel the need to share their stories. Those recommending this book to cochlear implant candidates should bear in mind that the stories are success stories. Many of the writers do share their difficulties dealing with hearing loss and adjusting to their cochlear implant, and some are persuasive in recommending cochlear implantation.

The text is also suitable for professionals working with cochlear implants. It provides a wonderful opportunity to "hear" patients' perspectives. Unfortunately, however, the professional may find a few of the errors in the text bothersome. The errors are not contextual, but were overlooked by editing (i.e., use of db instead of dB).