UT Student Working With NASA Receives Cochlear Implant

State & Regional

Amy Quartaro was diagnosed with bilateral hearing loss in 2014, but the 21-year-old aerospace engineering student at the University of Austin is pursuing her dreams, splitting time between school and working with NASA.

“I haven’t let it stop me,” she said. For the past few years, she relied on hearing aids. Now, she has a new tool to help — a cochlear implant.

“Even with the hearing aids, there are people I can’t hear, certain pitches,” she said. “I can’t talk to people if they’re sitting in the other room since I won’t be able to hear them.”

Quartaro says she’s learned about perseverance through her hearing loss.

“I’ve had instances happen when I’ve missed information because it wasn’t ever written down everywhere,” she said.

Amy Gensler from The Listening Center of Austin turned Quartaro’s cochlear implant on during an appointment Friday. It’s a small electronic device that helps to provide a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing.

“It’s kind of neat to see her get back into her normal hearing,” said Amy’s father, Chris Quartaro, after her cochlear implant was activated.

Cochlear implants were first approved by the FDA in the mid-1980s to help treat hearing loss in adults and were able to be implanted in children starting in 2000. Quartaro said she hopes her journey can help other people going through hearing loss.

“My advice is always keep going,” she said. “It’s not something that’s stopped me in any way. It’s definitely made things harder, but it makes them a little more rewarding whenever I can get past some of it.”

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) says in the United States, around 58,000 of these devices have been implanted in adults and 38,000 in children.

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