Implant Could Give New Hope For Tinnitus Patients

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – After enduring the explosive sounds of war in Iraq, Allen Vaught may have been looking forward to silence.

But the Dallas veteran rarely has it.

While sitting at his desk, lying in bed at night, or playing with his kids, Vaught is interrupted by a high pitched ringing.

It is a sound that’s not really there, but one his brain believes that it hears.  It happens on and off, every day, without warning.  “Sometimes it will last for several minutes,” he said. “Sometimes it’s for a few seconds. Usually it’s daily, often many times a day.”

Studies show up to half of all veterans returning from war suffer from tinnitus.  It’s an invisible injury often linked to repetitive loud noises.  “Sometimes it’s so overwhelming you can’t focus or you can’t communicate, you can’t sleep,”Vaught said.

A small Dallas-based company though, believes it’s close to a fix.  MicroTransponder is raising funding now for a device its calling Serenity.

Implanted in the body, it stimulates a nerve that essentially retrains the brain to stop believing it’s hearing the ringing.

The company is planning clinical trials in the upcoming year.

Former professional baseball pitcher Will Rosellini began putting the company together when his control struggles on the mound got him thinking.  “The difference between me and Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens isn’t muscles or skeleton, it’s my nervous system.”

After leaving the Arizona Diamondbacks organization he started studying.  Six graduate degrees later, he had 18 scientists together working on future solutions to not just tinnitus, but stroke recovery, post traumatic stress, and chronic pain.

In the implant’s first trial, tinnitus disappeared for 75-percent of the patients who used it.

For veterans like Vaught, it could be the cure to the war injury no one sees, or hears, but the victim.

“We’ve been overwhelmed with tinnitus patients saying, you’ve given me hope to keep going,” Rosellini said.

MicroTransponder expects to hold trials in the US and Belgium.  If the device continues to show clinically significant improvements for patients, the company could attempt to receive FDA approval as early as 2014.

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  • allenegg

    Although I’m not soldier back from war, I do suffer with Tinnitus. I worked as a machinist I did wear earplugs , and still suffer this malady. If they need a volunteer to test this procedure for this cure for Tinnitus, I will voluteer . For me , it’s not a ringing , but a constant squeal, 24/7 . I do loose some sleep because of it. I find it hard to sleep when at night the squeat is at it’s loudest.

  • LynnG

    I was stationed at a Naval Air Station in the 60s and like allenegg surrer from tinnitus 24/7. I too would gladly volunteer!

  • Ken

    I was in the air force and have had tinnitus for 40 years constant ringing and klicking. Hard to hear tv,carry conversations its a pain to live with. They want to try this on I am a prime person it cant be worse than what I have.

  • marie bailey

    I have had ringing in my ears for at least fifteen years i have learned to live with the problem.just to hear silence would be wonderful. my ears do not ring while im sleep i dont think.

  • Robert

    LOL I’ve had Tinnitus for as long as I can remember and I’m 47. It’s constant 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and it causes me to be hard of hearing. I’ve grown used to it for the most part. But it does seem to get louder at times. 2 Hearing aids let me hear most conversations, but I still struggle in social situations.

  • Britt

    I too live with a high pitched rining in my ears, 24 hours a day. You try to live with it but that annoying pitch is there all the time. During silence, it can drive you crazy. IT’s hard to read a book when tht is all you can here.
    It would be nice to have an option out there for tinnitus suffers and I would try when it’s available.

  • Jessie

    I am sixty-two and my ringing started two years ago. My puppy triped me and I fell and hit my head hard especially on the ear that has the ringing. Until this happened I had very good hearing ( I had been told especially good) but now I have noticed some hearing loss and the ringing never goes away. You do learn to live with It (what else can you do?) but it is hard because it never lets up. I would love to be in a trial.

  • Joe

    I’m 72 and have had tinnitus for about 15 years. Also hearing loss. I use hearing aids and just try to ignore the ringing. It is louder sometimes. Loud noises cause it to become worse. I was in the Air Force for 20 years and a large part of that was in aircraft and of couse firing weapons without hearing protection. This caused my hearing loss. I try to stay away from loud crowds and sporting events like NASCAR and shooting events. Ear plugs help when those events are unavoidable.

  • Ray

    Having tinnitus for the last 14 years, I am glad that I have finally read a story about it, and that real progress may be made so some us may one day hear true silence again….Thanks Mr. Allen and good luck to Micro..I’ll be waiting patiently..
    Ray in Irving

  • RobB

    I too have had ringing ears constantly for nearly 10 years. It started out as an occasional thing, then progressed to a point where it never ends. I’m an event planner and have been exposed to loud music and machinery; I’m also a diabetic. I’ve talked to doctors who say it could be the result of either situation. I’d love to be involved in the trial and would like to know how to pursue this.

  • Dan


  • Randy Marshall

    I am a student and have severe Tinnitus. It is impossible to read and study medical books with such severe Tinnitus. I am an honors student but many times I just can not continue to study because of the severe ringing in my ear. I would love to be a part of this study.

  • tee

    @randy! i’m a student too almost finishing my b.a. in history but i have this tinnitus for almost 1 month and it’s driving me crazy! i don’t think i can go on with my life with this every day! i hope there’s a cure soon

  • Jeff Hinkel

    Will;……I just commented on another article I found about your treatment;……My name is Jeff Hinkel. I have severe tinnitus and can’t sleep at all because of it.Have lost weight from the insomnia and would like to offer myself as a test subject.I know you may never read my messages and I know my chances of hearing from you are probably the same as my chances of hitting the lotto…..Jeff ………

  • Jeff Hinkel

    Willl……..Good luck with this and thanks for doing what you’re doing……Jeff Hinkel

  • Kevin Dwyer

    I too suffer from tinnitus from my service in Viet Nam. I have been treated with a device which successfully stops the ringing. Google Tinnitus and Melmedtronics for more information. Kevin

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