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“The marked difference such a small device can bring is astounding.” 

Steve Liu is a second year Audiology student from the University of Auckland on research placement at The Hearing House.  He’s collecting and analysing data on cochlear implant (CI) candidacy for adults for his thesis on potential barriers to adult CI referral and uptake in Aotearoa New Zealand, and ways to improve it. 

He’s being supervised in his research by Hearing House clinical director and associate professor Dr Holly Teagle.  

His research has taken him into the policy and population health side of cochlear implants, and has helped him understand the implications of the services The Hearing House offers.  It has also given him a greater awareness of the need to advocate for improving the outcomes of our kiritaki and those people who may need our services in the future. 

“Hearing health is a major global health issue,” says Steve.  

“Without appropriate support, it can substantially diminish one's quality of life and has various societal implications. Hearing screening and hearing loss prevention remains essential to minimise the burden of hearing loss.  

“The cochlear implant uptake remains low globally, including in Aotearoa New Zealand, due to several factors - limited public funding, conservative candidacy criteria, and a low and often latent referral base.  

“Global efforts are underway to raise awareness of cochlear implants and increase their uptake. Over time, cochlear implant candidacy criteria has become more inclusive as the technology and recipient outcomes have improved.  

“While there are many considerations to expanding cochlear implant uptake, the conservative audiology criteria currently used in New Zealand could be one of the immediate barriers that need to be addressed. Other factors contributing to a low referral rate and the reasons why some eligible candidates choose not to pursue cochlear implants need to be better understood – and that’s what really interests me.” 

Steve first studied a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Auckland, majoring in physiology. Neuroscience was of particular interest to him, as he discovered how the human brain was capable of almost unlimited potential.  

After completing his degree, he worked for a year before rekindling his love for medical science and enrolling in the Master of Audiology at the University of Auckland. 

“My exposure to cochlear implants through the Master's programme greatly influenced my decision to pursue further education and development in this area,” he says.  

“I was intrigued by cochlear implants because I was amazed by their ability to simulate human hearing. Although it’s not a perfect replacement, the marked difference such a small device can bring is astounding.” 

Outside of work and study, Steve loves nature and going to the gym, and likes nothing better than getting out into the great outdoors in the weekend.  


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