Topeka high school senior succeeds with cochlear implants

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Reagan Emerson is 17 years old from Topeka. Today, she’s a senior in high school, a cheerleader, and an athlete. You would never know she was born deaf.

“I was born on June 28. I was born in the year 2000 and that is when they first started doing newborn hearing screenings in the hospital. My parents got it done and found out I was deaf,” said Reagan.

Reagan’s mom, Allison Emerson said her hearing loss was very profound and she didn’t respond to any of the hearing tests that they were giving her.

Audiologists said 90 percent of babies who have hearing loss are born to families who hear normally, making communication more difficult.

Dr. Leigh Ann Monthey, an audiologist with Cochlear, said individuals with a profound hearing loss have limited access to oral speech and so they wouldn’t be able to hear and understand language and would have to use a different form of communication like sign language in order to communicate.

“It really caused a great concern for us.  Probably because we were fearful of her future.  But also because we didn’t feel that we had the skills.”

A diagnosis devastating for any new parent to hear, but not hopeless with the help of cochlear implants, hearing technology Reagan’s parents decided to try early on.

“(The) Sound routes through the outer ear, through the inner ear, stimulates the cochlea and the signal goes from the cochlea to the nerve to the brain.  If Reagan hadn’t had access to a cochlear implant her life would have been very different. she may have had to use hearing aids or may have had needed to develop sign language to communicate with any other individuals,” said Monthey.

But instead, Reagan lives a normal life.

“I can hear so much better than I ever could if I got it later in life. I definitely wouldn’t be as social as I am.  I wouldn’t have as many friends, and I just feel like I wouldn’t be as outgoing. If I don’t have my cochlear’s on, I don’t feel like I am a part of something, I just feel like i am not involved,” said Reagan.

As she heads to college this fall, she has high hopes for her future.

“I am going to K-State and i am hoping to study pre-dental and then continue on to dental (school),” said Reagan.

“We’ve put Reagan in a situation where she can have the journey that she chooses.  Hearing loss has not limited her options, and that’s I guess what I am most thankful for,” said Allison.

Today, Reagan’s options are endless, thanks to technology that made all the difference.

For more information on Cochlear Implants visit their website – http://www.cochlear.com

 

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