Rugby player Luke Nelson says he has become more sociable and can enjoy music festivals and cinema trips much more thanks to his new Amplifon hearing aids.
The 27-year-old, who plays for England Deaf Rugby, has worn NHS hearing aids from a young age after losing his hearing when he fell ill with meningitis at just six months old.
Now he says his confidence has grown and friends and family have noticed a huge difference after he had a free hearing test and free hearing aid trial at Amplifon in Liverpool.
He said: “Every time I went to the cinema I used to miss about 50 per cent of the sound and you can pick up a lot of background noise with other hearing aids. That doesn’t happen with my new hearing aids.”
As a baby, Luke was treated in Alder Hey Children’s Hospital after falling ill with meningitis, which left him completely deaf in his right ear and profoundly deaf in his left. He started wearing hearing aids aged two and had speech therapy sessions growing up.
He said: It was a constant battle through childhood to make sure there weren’t obstacles in front of me, but I had an amazing support system. I had great support at school, and through the NHS in Liverpool, to make sure I was keeping up.
“My mum and dad were also hugely influential in making sure I would not be held back in life with the loss of hearing and have constantly pushed me to make use of my support, and to overcome the obstacles that you face when suffering from being hard of hearing.”
Luke, a quantity surveyor working on the HS2 rail project, originally played football but took up rugby aged 18. He joined England Deaf Rugby three years later when a coach attended training at his club, Firwood Waterloo in Liverpool.
England Deaf Rugby has people of all levels of deafness and it’s completely supportive and a level playing field for everybody. The referee uses hand signals when they blow a whistle, for example, so everyone knows what’s happening and there’s a sign language interpreter for people who need it.”
After his free hearing test, Luke went for a free hearing aid trial with Amplifon and then had a further week’s trial after settings were adjusted to ensure they better suited his hearing loss. He road-tested the aids in a variety of settings, including watching Batman at the cinema
He said: “The test was great and the sound from the hearing aids is much cleaner than with my old hearing aids. There’s no feedback and it’s not picking up too much environmental noise, which can be distracting.
“As the trial went on, I went to the pub and I felt like I was becoming more sociable because I was able to hear more and talk to people easier. I usually miss out on quite a bit but I noticed I wasn’t having to ask people to repeat themselves – it wasn’t a stop-start conversation anymore.”
The Bluetooth feature on his aids, allowing them to be connected to his mobile phone and other devices, is also a highlight for Luke.
He said: “They’re great for work because people can ring me and the sound comes straight to my ears, and I listen to music to them too. That’s made commuting a lot better. Public transport can be boring but I don’t like headphones because they can block out noise. It’s been nice to listen to music through my hearing aids.”
Music lover Luke also found a difference on a recent holiday to Ibiza and a weekend at Glastonbury Festival. He said his friends and family all noticed a difference once he put in his Amplifon hearing aids and urged him to make the purchase.
He said: “I’ve always been quite close-minded about the NHS because I never thought there was anything out there for me, but the whole experience with Amplifon made me realise that there are other companies out there than can help – especially with my level of hearing loss.
“I’m extremely grateful for the experience and if other people were thinking about it I’d say go for it.”