'Incredible Hulk' Star Lou Ferrigno in Tears After His Cochlear Implant Surgery

The 69-year-old actor waited a long time to get the procedure, but now that its done, he can be an inspiration to others with his condition.

Lou Ferrigno became a household name after starring in the classic "The Incredible Hulk" television shows in the 1970s and 1980s.  But the two-time Mr. Universe and fitness icon has always had one weakness — his hearing.

After ear infections as a toddler left him with major hearing loss, Ferrigno spent years wearing hearing aids. Recently, he decided to undergo cochlear implant surgery to improve the clarity and definition of his hearing. And just like the Hulk, the transformation is incredible. He chatted with Inside Edition’s Les Trent to tell his story.

Lou explains to Les how he lost his hearing, saying, “I lost 85 percent of my hearing because of nerve damage. My mother and father didn't take me to a doctor since I was like 4 years old because they realized when they clap their hands, I didn't respond. So I had to wear the old-fashioned hearing aid with the buttons in the chest. So kids would make fun of me.”

Now, at the age of 69, the fitness icon has opted for a cochlear implant. “Well, hearing aids increased the volume,” Lou explains. “But now, because of the implant, I'm able to distinguish the different consonants, the different S sound. Everything you could... I never heard before. And that is a life-changing experience.”

Lou also answers the question so many are wondering: What took so long? “Well, I was kind of nervous for a long time. A friend of mine, a close friend of mine, had it done, and he had word discrimination within 12 percent to 98 percent. And I saw he made a miraculous change in his hearing. So I decided to take the chance myself.”

According to Lou, when he first got the implant, it took time to adjust. “Well, it's incredible because everybody that gets activated, it sounds different,” he states. “For me, I heard a lot of bells and chimes. So eventually, the brain adjusts to it, [and] understands the formulation of the word. The overtime just kept getting better and better." He adds that in the first six weeks, his word discrimination went from 20 percent up to 66 percent.

And although Lou Ferrigno hears better now, he continues to inspire the hearing impaired. “To let you know, a lot of people lose their hearing, they get very nervous, they feel isolated. For myself, my whole life, I want to be out there because I want to give a lot of people hope that when they have this done, they could have a much better life-changing experience.”

Lou shared footage of when his implant was activated. Beforehand, the doctor explained that the jumbled sounds he heard were normal and would get better as his brain adjusted. Then, Lou reacted to what he’s experiencing. “Wow… I’m just emotional because I can hear again,” he said in the clip with tears in his eyes.

Now that Lou has completed this procedure, he continues to encourage others with his condition. “So a lot of people are nervous,” he said. “But I think because I've done it, it gives them a lot of hope and confidence that they will have a better life-changing experience in themselves. It's okay because the technology today with cochlear is phenomenal.”

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