A pen might seem like an unusual piece of kit for a burly sportsman to carry onto the rugby pitch. But for Mat Gilbert — the only deaf professional athlete in the UK — this high-tech hidden device has become his personal secret weapon.
Now 30, the rugby union player’s hearing loss was diagnosed at the age of five — though he suspects he was born with it.
He can register a noise of 100 decibels, such as produced by a lawn mower or low-flying plane, but struggles with high frequencies and “wouldn’t hear at all in a hearing test.”
However, when wearing an aid tucked beneath his protective rugby helmet, the Worcester Warriors player can attain a reasonable level of hearing, he tells CNN’s Human to Hero series.
Recently, referees have also started wearing a pen-shaped microphone around their necks which reduces background noise — and relays sound directly to Gilbert’s hearing aid.