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|COCHLEAR IMPLANT QUESTIONS||
What they are...
Cochlear implants are utilized in patients who receive very little benefit from traditional hearing aids. The device is permanently and surgically implanted into the inner ear and bypasses the nonfunctional inner ear converting sound into electrical impulses that directly stimulate the cochlear nerve. As such, it is the final treatment option when it is determined that a patient will receive essentially NO benefit from using hearing aids. For pictures of the basic design, click here.
A cochlear implant consists of an external portion comprised of a microphone, sound processor, and external coil, typically worn behind the ear, and an internal portion that must be surgically implanted. The surgical procedure involves the placement of an internal receiver beneath the skin behind the ear, and stimulating electrode array, which is inserted into the cochlear part of the inner ear. For more information about the procedure, click here.
Controlling the Device
The electrical signals from the device are manipulated and controlled by a specially trained audiologist to maximize speech perception. The brain interprets these electrical impulses as sound. Different strategies (i.e., how sound is processed) are used depending upon the cochlear implant manufacturer. At present. there are three manufacturers. Their names and company information may be obtained by viewing their web sites.
Not all patients are surgical candidates, and not all cochlear implant recipients receive the same benefit. Some are tremendously benefited, while others are left very disappointed. The best candidates tend to be individuals with sudden (i.e., < 6 months' onset) with total hearing loss in both ears. Appropriately identified adults, as well as children beginning at 3 months of age, can be implanted. Research demonstrates that the earlier a deaf child is implanted, the better the longterm result will be with respect to speech and language development. Following surgery, rehabilitation is necessary, as the child must learn to associate the sound signals with normal sounds. Regarding deaf adults, research suggests that adults who receive cochlear implants are less lonely, have less social anxiety, are more independent, have increased social and interpersonal skills and, of course, they hear better with the cochlear implant!
For more information about cochlear implant companies