May 2017

Hearing implant maker Cochlear has agreed to buy audiology software company Sycle for $US78 million ($A106 million). The San Francisco-based Sycle owns a cloud-based management software that seamlessly integrates services for hearing professionals, which is used by more than 7,000 clinics in the US, UK and Canada. Cochlear, which will pay $US56 million ($A76 million) in cash and settle the balance over three years based on business performance, says the acquisition will be funded from existing debt facilities.

April 2017 Yahoo Finance

In honour of Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM), Cochlear Limited launched its annual Million Ear Challenge, an initiative to bring hearing loss awareness to more than 2 million people during the month of May. People can get involved in the Million Ear Challenge by sharing on their social channels what they would miss if they woke up in a world without sound, using the hashtag #MillionEar. "With hearing loss becoming more common as younger people lose hearing due to noise exposure and as baby boomers age, efforts like our #MillionEar Challenge are even more important to raising awareness," said Tony Manna, President, Cochlear Americas. "Our goal is to help change the lives of those who may be struggling with hearing loss, including those reluctant to take the first step by having their hearing tested, and to educate those who aren't aware of available solutions like hearing implants.”

Million Ear Challenge

When the goal of reaching 2 million people in 31 days is achieved, Cochlear will celebrate by donating to Hearing Charities of America (HCOA) and the Cochlear Implant Awareness Foundation (CIAF) to help support people with hearing loss.

"I've woken up in a world without sound, my sister lost her hearing as an adult and my daughter was born deaf, so I know firsthand the hardships the hearing-impaired face," said Michelle Tjelmeland, Founder, CIAF. "This is why I created CIAF, to provide those in need the help that my family was fortunate to receive. If we are able to reach 2 million people through the #MillionEar Challenge, then so many more people can be helped.” "We know millions of people live in isolation due to the impacts of hearing loss, isolation that separates them from their families, affects their work and limits their quality of life," said Steven Murphy, Executive Director, HCOA. "In a majority of cases, technology can solve this problem. The support from Cochlear's #MillionEar Challenge will help Hearing Charities increase the number of people who receive life-changing hearing assistive devices."

The impact of hearing loss is a growing issue that affects almost 50 million Americans. While often undetected or neglected, hearing loss can become a social and emotional barrier for the individuals suffering from it or the families of those it affects. Cochlear encourages as many people as possible to get involved in the #MillionEar Challenge and inspire others to help change the lives of those who may be struggling.

May 2017 Science

Barron Gulak remembers one experiment that did not take place in a lab. In 1964, Gulak and the other test subjects for the research were sent out on a boat travelling through rough waters off the coast Nova Scotia. The ship rolled and pitched in a storm, tilting back and forth. But those who'd volunteered for the research were immune to motion sickness. "Honestly, it was a wonderful time," said Gulak who, along with the other research test subjects, is deaf. It is, however, probably safe to assume that those who were conducting the research -- who were not immune to motion sickness -- did not share this view. "We were enjoying ourselves," Gulak recalled. "We actually had meals during the storm. And when they saw us eating, it made them even more sick, and they were vomiting."

For years, Gulak and others took part in research conducted by the US Naval School of Aviation Medicine, conducted during the early days of the American space program more than a half-century ago. By extension, these test subjects helped NASA, which sponsored the work, according to Bill Barry, NASA's chief historian. They spent days in rotating rooms. They went up on parabolic flights, floating in zero gravity. And they rocked on that boat out in the angry waters. "They were interested in researching balance and motion sickness, sea sickness and the like. That kind of thing," said Harry Larson, 79, who took part in the research. "Because NASA wanted to know more about how man could perform in a zero-gravity environment."

The research and the stories of the participants were detailed in an exhibit at Gallaudet University.

The research has deep ties with Gallaudet University, the nation's premier college for the deaf and hard of hearing. Many of those who participated were selected when officials came to the Washington, DC, campus in search of test subjects.

Left: Deaf subjects prepare for zero gravity flight  Right: Research participant David Myers, is seen wearing a head brace in a machine that would rock him from side to side.

Deaf Men

deaf men

In 1961, a doctor and other personnel from the US Naval School of Aviation Medicine visited Gallaudet and tested more than 100 students, faculty and staff, narrowing the group to a handful, mostly students. The research with that group continued for years.  All but one of the selected test subjects became deaf from spinal meningitis, which impacted their inner ear physiology. This meant they could endure motion and gravitational forces that make most people nauseous. The ability to withstand intense movement turned the so-called 'labyrinthine defect' into a valuable research asset -- no matter the test of equilibrium, the deaf participants simply never got sick. The test subjects were selected for "weightlessness, balance, and motion sickness experiments."

Harry Larson, one of the research participants, explained, 'We were different in a way they needed, indeed, their difference made it possible for researchers to explore human reactions to weightless environments and extreme motion and to better understand the complexity of entangled human sensory systems.” "I'm a red-blooded American," Gulak said. "I wanted to serve our country the best that I could. Being that I'm deaf, I could not join the military. . . . It was my way of serving.” "All of those experiments we went through, none of us got sick," said another participant, David Myers, 80.  "There would be two groups, my group and the hearing group, and the hearing group, many of them would always get sick. And we never got sick. So that, essentially, was the whole purpose of research, was to find out ways to prevent motion sickness.”

VolunteersHearing loss wasn't really a factor in the research, said Myers. Instead, those who were involved didn't have a functioning vestibular system, which meant their balance and sense of movement were affected and they didn't get motion-sick. Larson remembers when the Navy came to the Gallaudet campus, looking for volunteers to be part of a space research program. At the time, he was a senior at the university; it was the spring of 1961. Larson volunteered, ”Overall, I have to say, I was really pleased to be able to go on the different trips," he said. "It was an adventure to us. We certainly weren't thinking about any of the danger. It was more of like, fun things to do.” Larson was also on the ship that was tossed in waters off Nova Scotia and remembers travelling to Ohio for zero-gravity flights. He recalled one project in which he had to stand up against a post. He was strapped to the post with Velcro, the first time he'd seen the material. Larson said he spent hours like that, while others took pictures of his eyes."That was really tough," he said, "just having to stand for that long."

Myers recalled a rotating room where those involved in the research would stay, even to eat and sleep, for days. Initially, he said, it was tough to walk, but by the second or third day, the research subjects started to adapt. "It was a lot of work. A lot of hard work," he said. "For the [hearing participants], many of them got extremely ill in that room.” Myers said he once met John Glenn, a Marine Corps fighter pilot and the first American to orbit Earth. Glenn told Myers that he had heard about the Gallaudet subjects. "Once he got word that there was a group of deaf folks who would never get sick," Myers said, "he quote 'envied' us.”

Three of the deaf volunteers from Gallaudet University.


Jan 2017  Fox News Health and CBS 8 San Diego

Little Gavin Arroyo, of Buffalo, was born severely deaf and blind due to an extremely rare genetic disorder. Over time, his hearing grew worse, until doctors decided he was ready to undergo a 6-hour surgery to be fitted for a cochlear implant. "It was really a no-brainer," his mom, Jennifer Arroyo, said. "We have to do it, especially with his low vision.” When Gavin heard his mom's voice for the first time in December, it was clear they had made the right decision in helping him experience sound. He could be seen in a video suddenly perking up as they activated the implant, and leaning in to kiss his mother as he heard her voice.

Gavin"You see a kid like Gavin and you don't know what to do with him," Arroyo said. "He's so medically complex, and now that we're figuring him out, we certainly have more good days than bad”. Arroyo said she first discovered something was wrong when she gave birth to Gavin via emergency C-section 6 weeks premature, despite having a healthy pregnancy. After months of struggling with his vision, hearing, various sicknesses and other special needs, a California company was able to provide a rare and expensive genetic test for a reduced cost. They then discovered little Gavin had a genetic disorder so uncommon that it has no name, and only goes by USP9X. "It's super rare. Literally 23 people in the entire world have it," Arroyo explained. "It's the reason for his deafness. It's the reason for his blindness. It's why he's always so sick. It's why he's had so many different things.” In lieu of hearing or sight, the 3-year-old relies on taste and touch. But, Arroyo said she has been able to get through the good and the bad by always having a positive outlook, and offering her son unconditional love. "This is what a mom does, a mom loves her kid," Arroyo said. "Even in my darkest moments, where I'm crying and I'm frustrated, and I'm like 'Oh, why is this?' I'm going to be okay. He's going to be okay. We've come way too far to not be okay.”

 The video of Gavin’s December implant, which has been shared on his Facebook support page and was captured by his sister Stephanie, shows the boy lean in to kiss his mother after hearing her voice. “It was amazing, Jeni said, his tiny little response -- he didn’t freak out. When he heard me, he pointed at my mouth and it was the most overwhelming moment.” The Buffalo, 

New York, family had been raising funds for Gavin’s implant on a GoFundMe page after learning the extent of his medical issues last year. “As his mom, I’m doing what I’m supposed to do for him, that means I have to figure it out. I’ll always figure it out.”