Dybala: Hi Lou, thank you for spending time with me today.
Ferrigno: You are very welcome, Paul.
Dybala: If you dont mind I would like to review a little bit of your hearing history for our readers. I read in your previous interviews that your hearing loss started when you were an infant and you have worn hearing aids your entire life.
Ferrigno: That is correct. I actually started with just wearing one hearing aid. My family could not afford two hearing aids, so I wore one hearing aid, but I would switch ears every 6 months. So, when I was about 21-22 years of age, I finally bought myself two hearing aids and have been wearing two ever since!
Dybala: That is actually very interesting and a pretty smart idea to change ears every 6 months. As a two-time Mr. Universe, you know as well as anyone that when exercising your muscles you either use it or lose it. We know from research that it is the same thing with your hearing and this is why when you have hearing loss in both ears we almost always recommend hearing aids for both ears!
Dybala: I would like to talk some more about your experiences with hearing aids. It is my understanding that you have been able to use a new Starkey device called ELI (www.elihearing.com) that enables certain hearing aids to work with compatible mobile phones using Bluetooth wireless technology. How did you like using ELI?
Ferrigno: It worked great! The first time I used ELI I was in a very noisy convention exhibit hall with lots of people talking in the background. I was on a mobile phone, talking to someone who was across the country, and it was so clear it was like they were standing right next to me. It was almost unbelievable to me, as I normally have a lot of problems hearing on the phone when I am in a noisy room.
Dybala: Trying to listen in a background noise of other people talking is a really difficult situation, so this is pretty impressive technology!
Ferrigno: It really is! I have a pretty significant hearing loss and so was a big deal for me to be able to communicate on the phone so well in that type of situation.
Dybala: Technology in hearing aids has been progressing very rapidly in fact, I think the last time you were interviewed for our web site you were wearing analog hearing aids and now you are wearing digital, is that correct?
Ferrigno: Yes, Starkey was able to make a digital hearing aid that was powerful enough for me to wear and so I am currently wearing a pair of DaVinci PXP, behind-the-ear hearing aids.
Dybala: So, how are you doing with them?
Ferrigno: They are more powerful than my previous hearing aids and I am able to hear better with them. The nice thing about them is that they come with two different programs that I can listen to. As an example, I am in program one right now and it works better for me in a quiet situation, and I can switch to program two when I get in a noisier situation. This has been really helpful to me so that I can monitor my own voice. Also, these hearing aids have a wide range of adjustments that my audiologist can make. I am a perfectionist so this really helps my audiologist to perform some finely tuned adjustments with them!
Dybala: Right, with the two programs it is kind of like you have two hearing aids working for you. This is a great feature that is available in many digital hearing aids and I think that this capability is really helpful to the user.
Ferrigno: I am also a big user of the t-coil! I use it to watch DVD movies especially. The beauty of it is when I fly on the airplane I will use my t-coil to listen to the movie while I play it on my laptop. It is like I am in my living room at home. I do not hear any of the airplane noise, just the music and sounds from the movie. It gives me a chance to hear things that I would normally miss! When I use the t-coil I am able to pick up around 80% of the dialogue where normally I would only pick up 40% in that situation.
Dybala: I am glad you brought up t-coils. There are a lot of people who have hearing aids and do not realize all the different ways that you can use a t-coil. They usually think that it is only good for the telephone, but as you just mentioned, it can be used with other compatible devices as well.
Well Lou, looks like we are running out of time. I wanted to ask one more question of you. You are really considered a role model for persons who have hearing loss. If you had one thing you could say to someone who has a hearing loss, but is not sure about getting hearing aids, what would you tell them?
Ferrigno: If you are going to try and hide something, sooner or later people are going to find out. If you try to hide your hearing loss you are actually going to do more harm to yourself. It is better to come out in the open and be honest about it, especially with yourself. Get some hearing aids and your life will be so much better.
Dybala: Thank you, Lou. I appreciate your time.
Ferrigno: You are very welcome!
More information about Lou Ferrigno including DVDs, books, clothing and other related items can be found at his web site at www.louferrigno.com
About the Starkey Hearing Foundation
Since 1973, Starkey has been giving the gift of hearing to the worlds underprivilegedespecially childrenthrough its internationally recognized mission program and its domestic program, Hear Now. Since 2000, the Starkey Hearing Foundation has provided more than 130,000 hearing aids to those in need around the world. Visit www.sotheworldmayhear.org to learn more.
About Starkey Laboratories
Headquartered in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Starkey Laboratories, Inc. is a worldwide provider of comprehensive digital hearing systems, including custom and standard devices, protection products, instrumentation and unique business solutions. Founded in 1967, Starkey owns the Audibel, Micro-Tech, NuEar, Omni and Qualitone companies and operates facilities in 24 countries. Starkey is the recognized world leader in the design and development of innovative custom digital hearing instruments.
For more information visit www.starkey.com