On Monday, Lee Duck-hee became the first deaf player to win an ATP match, facing Henri Laaksonen in Winston-Salem.
This is how it works:
When asked how he copes with his impairment, he replied with a relativizing view – deaf people are more visually inclined than others, and it should be viewed as an advantage (or at least a compensation).
“I always stay focused on a game, no matter what. No noise distracts me.”
To keep up, Lee has trained his eyes; sharpening his focus on his opponent’s swing, how that player makes contact and the speed and spin of the ball as it’s racing toward him.
After his defeat to Lee three years ago, the professional Christopher Rungkat was convinced of Lee’s ability to predict the movement of the ball. “He always knew where I was aiming at. As if he was reading my thoughts.”
The science behind it:
Let’s have a look at the opposite starting point. Most of us share the common belief that vision-impaired or blind people have nearly supernatural enhanced hearing.
Obviously, humans aren’t capable of most superpowers seen in movies. But we do indeed become more attuned to sound after losing our sight as we naturally compensate by relying on other senses, hearing and touch being the primary ones after sight.
A common misconception, however, is that our ears become more sensitive after losing our sight. Being blind does not automatically enhance your hearing. This can only be developed over time and with practice.
Same goes for people born blind. They have perfectly normal ears – it’s their brain’s visual cortex and hearing center that adapts to their new situation, making it easier on them to lead comfortable lives.
“Even in the case of being profoundly blind, the brain rewires itself in a manner to use the information at its disposal so that it can interact with the environment in a more effective manner,” said senior author Lotfi Merabet, O.D., Ph.D., director of the Laboratory for Visual Neuroplasticity at the Schepens Eye Research Institute of Mass. Eye and Ear and an associate professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School.
Our brain naturally wants to make things easy on us, so it will adapt according to our circumstances. These adaptations can happen quickly, and the longer or more often the situation occurs, the more hard-wired these changes become.
Our brains make new connections in the absence of visual information, resulting in enhanced, compensatory abilities such as a heightened sense of hearing, balance, touch, and smell, as well as cognitive functions (such as memory and language) according to a study led by Massachusetts Eye and Ear researchers.
This is why SensuGlasses work so very well:
This is where SensuGlasses come into play. They block said visual information and force our brain to temporarily rely on other senses while also making sure, we are not getting distracted by visuals. This ensures we can focus on other senses much like Lee Duck-hee. Both short and long term this results in a better feel for the ball and its movement as well as our own motion sequence.
“If the brain can rewire itself – perhaps through training and enhancing the use of other modalities like hearing, touch and language tasks such as braille reading – there is tremendous potential for the brain to adapt and improve.”
provided by Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary