Understanding speech after hearing loss from bacterial meningitis

Image of a person's hand wearing a Neosensory Buzz wristband stroking the face of a white horse.

A Neosensory Buzz user spotlight

We’re sharing experiences from our Neosensory Buzz community members in an ongoing blog series. Everyone’s story is unique and everyone uses Buzz in different ways. Read on to learn more and check back soon for our next post in the series. 

Interested in sharing your Buzz story? Reach out to us at hello@neosensory.com.

My life, with and without hearing

By Nancy Rose, Neosensory Buzz user

Throughout the majority of my life, I had full hearing in both ears. I was a speech pathologist in my twenties and later went on to become a family practice physician for 30 years, mostly in Iowa. 

I retired at 60 and then started doing fascial bodywork on horses, which I absolutely love! 

After becoming deaf, I’ve found that I am even better at it. I’m less distracted by sounds around me. That said, I was excited to discover Neosensory Buzz. I have really benefited from the awareness I now have of the sounds around me, especially speech and daily noises around the house and while driving.

Losing my hearing to bacterial meningitis

I lost all of my hearing two years ago after a bout of severe bacterial meningitis

After that, I decided to get two cochlear implants, but, unfortunately, they do not help much. They do allow me to hear sound, but all sounds are alike. I am unable to distinguish between a knock on the door, a dog barking, an alarm, words, etc. It sounds very much like Morse code, just a bunch of dots and dashes.  

When reading lips, I can determine how many syllables are in the words that are spoken, but I cannot differentiate between the various spoken sounds.

First experiences with Neosensory Buzz

Even though Buzz isn’t intended to specifically help with speech recognition, the very first time I put Buzz on my wrist I was able to understand speech significantly better! After a while, I realized that I was also able to tell which syllable in each word was accented due to the stronger vibration on my wrist. 

I was also able to tell the difference between short and long sounds (for example, the difference between the spoken sounds m and b/p, between n and d/t), and the difference between soft and harsh sounds (for example, the difference between the spoken sounds s and z or f and v). These little changes virtually doubled my speech discrimination!  

Experiencing the world with Buzz

There are so many wonderful experiences that I have had with my Buzz, but the greatest is the improved conversations that I have had with my husband, especially those involving technical information. 

I am also able to “feel” music played by my daughter’s boyfriend, a professional musician. The vibrations from Buzz help improve my perception of the songs. 

And now, when I do bodywork on horses, I can communicate with the horse owners quite well. Previously, I had to have them wear a microphone that would sync with the cell phone I wore on my wrist that displayed the text of what they said. That became very cumbersome because the system would shut off automatically after only 2 minutes of silence.

In addition to the significant improvement in my speech comprehension, I have noticed that Buzz allows me to easily recognize alarms and buzzers around the house, coffee grinders, garbage disposals, etc. And it enables me to acknowledge when there is a siren near me while driving. I am making far fewer mistakes on a daily basis.

Buzz – my sixth sense

I would certainly think that anyone, including those who hear better than I do through their cochlear implants or hearing aids, would get tremendous benefit from Buzz. 

I suggest taking the time to wear it when you have ample time and attention to learn what different sounds feel like, as the brain learns very quickly to make the new associations. 

I can only describe it as a “sixth sense” (vibration), taking over for the lost sense of hearing. 

By Nancy Rose, Neosensory Buzz user