Lou Ferrigno: Fighting The Stigma Of Hearing Loss
Education and Advocacy A discussion with Lou Ferrigno on overcoming the social and physical barriers of hearing loss.
Mediaplanet: For our readers who are not familiar with your story, please explain to us at what age you were diagnosed with hearing loss, and what your symptoms were.
Lou Ferrigno: I was diagnosed with hearing loss at the age of three. My mother noticed that I did not respond to any clapping or noise. However, my parents believe that I lost my hearing closer to birth, due to an infection brought on by meningitis.
MP: How did hearing loss as a child affect your personality development?
LF: As a child my hearing loss made me very introverted, and I felt socially awkward around other people.
"Maximize what you have, work on your speech and go out and get the best hearing aid for your hearing loss. Don’t waste any time in addressing your hearing health issues."
MP: What advice would you give to those who suffer from partial hearing loss?
LF: Not to feel sorry for yourself. Maximize what you have, work on your speech and go out and get the best hearing aid for your hearing loss. Don’t waste any time in addressing your hearing health issues.
MP: Did you ever have to combat stigmas associated with hearing loss as a child or young adult? If so, how did those experiences affect your drive towards achieving your amazing success as an actor and body builder?
LF: I felt rejected—they used to call me names such as Deaf Louie and Deaf Lou. I took the positive route and never felt sorry for myself. I was fascinated with power as a kid; I would read comic books and that gave me the drive -- I knew that was my platform to survive.
MP: It has been said that working out affects all aspects of your body, including brain function, vision and hearing. Based upon this assumption, do you feel that your athletic endeavors affected your cognitive ability to pick up sound cues?
LF: One thing had nothing to do with the other. I think that my training made me much more aware and alert of my environment and surroundings.
"I felt rejected—they used to call me names such as Deaf Louie and Deaf Lou. I took the positive route and never felt sorry for myself."
MP: The advancement of hearing aid technology has grown rapidly over the past few decades, and nobody would know that better than you, having worn a hearing aid for the majority of your life. How have these advancements in the industry affected your experience with hearing loss?
LF: The advancements continue to help my speech pattern tremendously and my hearing is always improving. However, it comes down to the fact that you have to be brave enough to wear hearing aids. There’s always the worry of being rejected, and that people won’t want to be seen with you. Technology has gotten better I’m able to hear clearly and it has helped all aspects of my life. I wear hearing aids in both ears now.
MP: How have you overcome challenges associated with hearing loss during your acting career, and which role was most affected by it?
LF: As I’ve gotten older my hearing and speech have improved. It’s hard to say which role because every time I’ve had a part I made the whole cast and crew aware of my hearing situation, I never hid behind it.