How do cochlear implants work?

Cochlear implants are used by people who are medically termed as deaf or are extremely hard of hearing. The implant itself has two plants. The first part of the implant is fixed behind the ear, while the second portion of the implant is surgically implanted inside the ear under the skin.

The mechanism of the implant

The microphone will actually pick up the sounds that are there in the environment, while the speech processor that will select those sounds and arrange those sounds. The transmitter / receiver / stimulator will receive the signals from the speech processor and then convert these sounds to electric impulses. The electrode serves to pick up these signals from the transmitter and then sends these impulses to the auditory nerve.

It should be understood that a deaf person does not have normal hearing through the cochlear implant rather they get a near representation of the sounds that are present in the environment.

How does the implant work?

Cochlear implant is the wonderful hearing aid that has helped many people to listen sounds and voices, even if they do not have the natural hearing ability. This device, which has helped many people to live a better life, is mainly divided into two parts. They are the external part and the internal part. The external part of the device is further sub-divided into a microphone, a speech processor and a transmitter. However, the internal part of the device consists of one receiver and stimulator as well as an array of electrodes.

Cochlear implants are different than hearing aids that are commonly found are quite inexpensive as compared to the implants. Hearing aids will simply amplify or increase the sound levels so that the sounds can be somewhat perceived by the ear.

However, the cochlear implants will simply provide the electrical impulses direct to the auditory nerves, so that it reaches the brain. The brain is where these signals will be perceived as sounds. In that sense, those that have cochlear implants need to adjust to the device as it is quite different from normal hearing or normal hearing aids.

Who can benefit from the implants?

Children and adults can benefit from these implants. In fact, across the world many people have benefited from such implants. The implants allow adults to understand the sounds and even connect them with their previous memories (before they became deaf). To this end, those that have cochlear implants don’t require to lip read, understand visual cues or understand the sign language.

In many cases, the implants are used aggressively with post implant therapy and help children in speaking. Children aged between 2-6 years of age can benefit from the use of these implants. Eligibility for implants has also been lowered and a child as young as 12 months can also use the cochlear implants as well.

These devices are expensive and in some cases may be covered under the health insurance schemes. Further post implantation therapy is required, and the patient should also be willing to learn.

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