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First ever Med-El Meetup in Innsbruck, Austria

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Med-El just completed its first ever Med-El Meetup in Innsbruck Austria.  It was held October 17-19, 2018.  15 Med-El users/parents from 11 countries participated.  It was a very diverse group of people.

Parents of CI users

Long time bilateral CI users

Bilateral CI users 

Unilateral CI user who is deaf in the other ear too but in countries which do not offer bilateral CIs to adults

Bimodal user

Single sided deaf CI user

Bilateral BoneBridge user

Vibrant SoundBridge user


I was so surprised to receive an invitation.  It was an amazing event.


If Med-El hosts future global meetup events and you receive an invitation, I strongly encourage you to attend.


I’d like to share the event with you.  Several other HearPeers members attended as well.  I hope they share their experience with us here too.

@Ivana Marinac

@Veronika Hörfarter (welcome to HearPeers Veronika.)


Hopefully more people who attended the event will join HearPeers soon too.


Some attendees have Instagram and Twitter accounts.  Searching for


will guide you to their experiences.


Thank you Med-El for this unexpected, amazing invitation.  It was an awesome event.

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Day 1- Hotel Innsbruck ...terrific gathering of most of the participants...a few were still traveling to Innsbruck .....and many Med-El Innsbruck employees.  So many stories shared.  Tears of apprecia

Day 3 - We began today with group photos outside Med-El headquarters near the Med-El sign.  Then we focused on digital media all morning.  Breakout groups focused on topics such as: -What digital

Thanks @Mary Beth - you did a great job of promoting the HearPeers Forum in Innsbruck and it's great to be here! I am a HearPeers mentor on the UK version of the site - here is a link to my profile wh

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Day 1- Hotel Innsbruck ...terrific gathering of most of the participants...a few were still traveling to Innsbruck .....and many Med-El Innsbruck employees.  So many stories shared.  Tears of appreciation shed.  Lots of laughter.  We quickly became a group of friends.  Veronika treated us to special compositions on the piano.  We are an excited group!


Day 2- Med-El!   Such a warm welcome at Med-El Innsbruck.  


We went on a behind the scenes tour of the Med-El implant production line.  So many safety precautions and quality control checks.  We saw implants in various stages of production.  It takes 5 weeks to make an implant and all are shipped out immediately.  Someone is waiting for every implant made!  Viewing a shelf of completed implants made me smile knowing each one would be life changing to a future user.  We were surprised to learn that we have helium, argon and quite a bit of gold in our heads!


We were each videotaped separately giving info about our hearing journeys.


Then we had an emotional time with members of the production team who make our implants.  Each of us shared our story and our thanks.  The parents shared videos and photos of their children.  There wasn’t a dry eye at Med-El.  A very special moving moment for us all.  Followed by a much needed coffee break and more interactions.


We went into the training lab for surgeons!  Blue booties and all.  There we used virtual reality and haptic tech to practice drilling a well for the implant.....complete with blood spattering when we drilled too deeply!  I was terrible at this task.  My patient would’ve needed strong pain meds for sure!  We practiced inserting an electrode array into a cochlea.  Way cool!  And we had hands on time with the new surgical OtoPlan.  Amazing tech for customized CI surgery planning.


Followed by lunch and more chatting and learning from each other.


Med-El really treated us as such special members of the Med-El family.  


After lunch we participated in workshops where Med-El wanted to learn from our experiences.  Different Med-El leaders ran sessions on topics such as:

-Why did we choose Med-El?  What do we think makes Med-El special?

-What problems have we experienced with our processors and accessories?

-Service and repair showed us extreme cases of processor damage.  Oh my!  Stoves, ovens, microwaves, dogs, dryers....and our processors are not a good combination!  They showed us revisions they have made to the Sonnet and Rondo based on user problems.  A few revisions are already available and a few will be soon.  We got to play with the new Sonnet mic cover design so we will not have to remove the earhook and deal with that tiny pin any longer!  Yay!

-We spent time at a hands on table with all the Med-El devices.  The new Rondo 2 sure is pretty!


All of the Med-El employees really listened to our feedback and took notes.  They really care about our user experiences.


Another coffee break!  Each coffee break gave us opportunities to interact with even more Med-El employees.  They joined us for coffee breaks and it was so nice to put faces to names we see online!


Then the final round of sessions for today focused on aural rehab and the Roger Pen.  We experienced a group conference call where we needed to plan a party, a noisy cafe with music playing nearby and talked about aural rehab needs for future users.


It was a fun-filled, awesome, informative day!  And every moment was so well planned.


A quick break at the hotel and then off on a guided, narrated walking tour of beautiful Innsbruck!  Excellent tour.


Another quick break and we walked to a special dinner at a restaurant in town with 360 degree views named Lichtblick.  A wonderful meal and lots more laughter.


A wonderful day spent with wonderful people.


Thank you Med-El!

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Oh wow @Mary Beth. So happy you got to go. I hope you get to do some touring before returning to the USA. Did Med-El stand the costs for airfare and hotel accommodation? If they did that's super cool. Did you enquire why with the Roger 21 receiver the volume is decreased? 

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Thank you @Jewel.  Med-El did cover the costs and they treated us like special family guests.  It was fantastic to meet so many Med-El employees.  We learned a lot from each other.


I did discuss the interesting volume decrease in the omni mics when the Roger 21 battery cover is attached but the Roger transmitter is off but to be honest that conversation got interrupted due to the next workshop beginning so let me reach out and see what I learn.  I know some people have a special MAP made that increases their volume to restore it to normal to use when they attach the Roger 21.  

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Oh yes.  We all thanked everyone we met at Med-El over and over as THANK YOU hardly seems sufficient for the gift of hearing with this amazing technology.


We were a very thankful group of 15.  

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@Mary Beth - wow, I'd heard about the meetup but didn't know you were going.  Sounds like a wonderful experience!  Innsbruck is a nice town too.

One of these days I need to plan a trip near there so I can stop in.

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Day 3 - We began today with group photos outside Med-El headquarters near the Med-El sign.  Then we focused on digital media all morning.  Breakout groups focused on topics such as:

-What digital media helped us at the beginning of our journeys?

-What digital media may help others?

-Med-El’s multiple digital media platforms, including a new Instagram presence!

-Some of us participated in filmed interviews of each other in pairs.


And then it happened.  You could’ve heard a pin drop as everyone realized Inge Hochmair stopped by to visit with us.  We were so in awe.  Inge Hochmair, the creator of the modern cochlear implant and founder of Med-El, was standing right there!  


I met Inge and tried to express my deepest gratitude for her life’s work which has changed my life.  I thought I would have this incredible experience for a minute or two since there were 15 of us.  But after I finished trying to put into words how much my life has changed and how grateful I am, she asked me questions about my hearing journey.  She was interested and took time to hear my experience.  I could not believe I was standing there talking with Inge Hochmair!   There are no words to describe my feelings.  A dream come true.


Everyone of us took turns doing the same.  None of us could believe this was happening.  And then Erwin Hochmair joined!  We owe so much to the Hochmairs.  Thank you for Med-El and for changing our lives!


I had passed along thank you cards to be given to the Med-El employees who made each of my specific internal components on Day 2.  Our serial numbers are able to identify the exact people who made them.  It turned out that 3 of the team of people who made my right Concerto implant were  there and they came down to meet me.  Barbara from Med-El’s social media team translated for us.  My eyes filled with tears as soon as I saw them.  We talked for quite awhile.  I told them how much I appreciate how carefully they made my implant and how their work took my ear which had not processed any sound for 24 years and turned it into an incredible listening ear.  Thanks to Barbara’s translating not only was I able to share some of my right ear’s WOW moments but they were also able to ask me things they were curious about. Teary moments and laughter ......and another chance to say thank you so much for this gift of hearing!


Ideas of ways to help people on their journeys were developing as we continued to learn from each other.  We could feel the excitement at Med-El.  More and more Med-El employees were coming down and discussing these ideas during coffee breaks.  (Which is quite funny that those times were called coffee breaks because I was so excited to be meeting and talking with Med-El employees from all different departments that I never actually had any coffee!)


We enjoyed lunch together with Med-El employees and then our time at Med-El headquarters was ending.  I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to all the wonderful Med-El employees.  Smile.  This first ever Med-El Meetup created a blended group of Med-El users and Med-El employees who are all highly motivated to work together to help others on their hearing journeys.  It really is a beginning and I am excited.


The afternoon was spent at Med-El’s interactive museum about hearing called AUDIOVERSUM. We screamed and then screamed in pairs to try to match the decibel level of an elephant.  We tried our best but the elephant won.  We saw a huge 3-D ear transmit sound.  We chased birds using bilateral hearing, ran into walls in virtual reality 3-D sound mazes and played music with huge interactive cochlear hairs.


Later we rode the cable car up Nordkette Mountain overlooking the beautiful town of Innsbruck and enjoyed dinner high up in the Austrian Alps.


Saying goodbye to everyone was difficult.  Our group bonded so easily that we are already special friends.  I hope our paths cross in person again someday.  We will stay connected via social media.  We shared an amazing experience with Med-El.  I see future travel plans to far off countries where we now have friends to visit.  Smile.


Med-El’s first ever Med-El Meetup was a huge success!


Thank you Med-El for inviting me to participate in this incredible experience!


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WOw WOW WOW! I’m so excited that you got to go @Mary Beth  since you are one on the most knowledgeable people on HP and was sure happy to hear you had a great time!

The Austrian Alps are so beautiful! I miss them all the time. My father was from Austria and lived in a village called Vandans. Which is about two hours or so from Innsbruck. I would love to go back again! 

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Thank you everyone!


@Kara of Canada  I would love to meet you.  We will have to set up our own meet up in Canada.  Who lives kind of nearby you from HPs or other Med-El users?  I love road trips.

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