Published on Thursday, February 25, 2021
By: Brianne Pardo
UMMC audiology extern Lauren Langan has a unique understanding of hearing loss since her own hearing loss was identified at a young age.
Diagnosed with single-sided deafness, Lauren had depended on a hearing aid in her left ear to help her communicate for most of her life. In recent years, the hearing quality in her left ear worsened and she began to use a hearing aid for her right ear as well.
“My hearing continued to deteriorate in my left ear to a point where I could only understand 12% of sounds. My left hearing aid ceased to provide clarity, everything was muddy and distorted, she explained. “I had known I had hearing loss in my right ear since I was 5, but I didn't wear a hearing aid on that side until recently”.
It was her own experience with hearing loss that motivated Lauren to pursue a career in audiology. She completed her undergrad at the University of Georgia before enrolling in the Audiology Program at the University of Louisville in Kentucky.
Lauren came to UMMC in June of 2020 to complete an audiology externship, a year-long program in which participants receive in-depth clinical knowledge and skills to provide comprehensive audiology care. While the FDA approved cochlear implant systems for single sided deafness 2 years ago, it wasn't until her time at UMMC that she became a candidate for the implant due to her hearing loss progression.
"I was in the right place, at the right time", she noted.
Lauren met with Otolaryngologist Dr. Thomas Eby and Audiologist Dr. Vicki Gonzalez to determine if a cochlear implant would be best for her. Together, they decided to move forward with the surgery. Dr. Eby completed the surgery on December 18, 2020, and the implant was activated by Dr. Gonzalez on January 21, 2021.
In just several weeks of Aural Rehabilitation, Lauren is hearing better than ever.
“The cochlear implant has exceeded my expectations and significantly improved my quality of life”, Lauren said. “I’m grateful to Dr. Eby and to Dr. Gonzalez who was so helpful during the decision-making process. She made my decision so much easier and was supportive of whatever decision I made; whether to get the implant or not”.
Lauren is looking forward to completing her Doctor of Audiology degree so she can help to improve the quality of life for others who suffer from hearing loss.