Meet Gregory Rorabaugh: piano tuner and House Institute patient.

Oct 18, 2022 | House Institute Foundation, Research

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Gregory’s hearing loss journey began in 2001. He was in Japan on a piano tuning training trip and, as he tuned, he noticed a bit of audio distortion. It was strange, but not bothersome enough to immediately set off alarm bells, and he was able to carry on with his work just fine. But when Gregory arrived back home, the distortion did not go away.


Gregory first received the diagnosis of cochlear hydrops, a condition where excess fluid fills the cochlea and eventually leads to nerve damage. Over the next three years, his symptoms worsened until he was ultimately diagnosed with bilateral Ménière’s Disease. By now, the vertigo had started, which led to debilitating bouts of dizziness and disorientation. Meanwhile, Gregory was swapping for stronger and stronger hearing aids as his hearing continued its sharp decline from 2003 to 2016.“I couldn’t communicate. I couldn’t hear music at all. My future would have been very narrow.”When Gregory received his first Cochlear Implant, he remembers it as “a blessing and a miracle.” Suddenly, he was able to understand family at home without needing to pass notes. He could head out into the world and feel integrated into his environment. Today, Gregory’s bilateral cochlear implants are his lifeline to tuning pianos.

“Listening and tuning the piano with bilateral Cochlear Implants is obviously not the same as the natural ear, but the incredible thing is that as time goes on, it develops and gets more and more real. Cochlear implants have subjective reactions, and we all hear music differently. The brain is retrained to hear things, and for me, that means I can hear music almost as it used to sound.”

Because of this, Gregory is especially supportive of the research being done at the House Institute to increase music hearing perception in Cochlear Implant users.

“It’s exciting, that the House Institute can make music more available and easier to hear – for everyone. I hope people hearing my story will be not as reluctant to search out Cochlear Implants for themselves, especially if they’re experiencing a progressive decline in hearing. It’s just wonderful, the difference it has made.”

Here at the House Institute, we drive innovative solutions today so that our patients can do the things they love for years to come.

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