Hailed as one of mankind's most amazing inventions, the cochlear implant has changed the lives of more than 350,000 people throughout the world. A potential hearing solution for individuals who are severely - or profoundly - deaf, the decision to undergo the required surgery in order to be implanted can be one of the most important decisions such individuals will ever make.
Some individuals suffer from progressive hearing loss, rendering their hearing aids - and other listening devices - less effective as time goes by.
Other individuals have been deaf all their lives, and simply want to hear for the first time. Adults want to be independent and to feel included instead of isolated.
The deaf and hard-of-hearing often speak of wanting to be ‘part of the conversation’, to hear their children and grandchildren, to listen to music or enjoy the simple sounds of nature. Conversely, the parents of children with hearing loss want their child to have the opportunity to learn to listen, talk and communicate freely and independently, and with confidence.
A cochlear implant works by bypassing damaged or missing hair cells and stimulating the hearing nerve directly. A cochlear implant system has both internal and external components: the implant and electrode array are implanted during surgery, and a sound processor and headpiece are provided to the patient shortly before the implant is activated.
With developments in technology, the entire process of incoming sound to processing in the brain, occurs so rapidly that the cochlear implant recipient hears sound as it happens.
The progress made over the last decade in cochlear implants has been truly phenomenal. They have demonstrated their ability to significantly improve the quality of life of both adults and children. Outcomes vary according to each recipient’s individual circumstances.
All recipients report an increase in access to environmental sounds whilst many enjoy the ability to hear and understand words and sentences without lip-reading. Some recipients go on to using the telephone, and even learning to play a musical instrument.
Other developments are helping cochlear implant recipients to cope better with background noise, soft speech, music, using the telephone, and life in a variety of environments.
Want to know more about how a cochlear implant system works? Click here.
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Copyright © 2014 - Stuart McNaughton