What is a cochlear implant?
A cochlear implant is a medical option for individuals with severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss. In this type of hearing loss, hearing aids provide limited benefit because they are designed to amplify sound, but the cochlea is not able to process this sound. A cochlear implant bypasses the non-functioning part of the cochlea and delivers sound signals directly to the hearing nerve.
Cochlear implants function by electrically stimulating the sensory cells in the cochlea. They can be used effectively by both pre lingually and post lingually deafened children.
How do cochlear implants work?
Cochlear implants bypass damaged hair cells and convert speech and environmental sounds into electrical signals and send these signals to the hearing nerve. The implant consists of a small electronic device, which is surgically implanted under the skin behind the ear and an external speech processor, which is usually worn on a belt, in a pocket or behind the ear. A microphone is also worn outside the body as a headpiece behind the ear to capture incoming sound. The speech processor translates the sound into coded signals. These ‘codes’ travel up a thin cable to the headpiece and are transmitted across the skin via radio waves to the implanted electrodes in the cochlea. The electrodes stimulate the auditory nerve fibers to send information to the brain where it is interpreted as meaningful sound.
Cochlear implantation surgery, programming & habilitation
Implant surgery is performed under general anesthesia and lasts from two to three hours. An incision is made behind the ear to open the mastoid bone leading to the middle ear. The patient will usually be discharged theext day after surgery.
The device will be programmed and switched on after 3 weeks. Your audiologist will program the cochlear implant and provide the best listening program for you. Implantees must undergo auditory habilitation which is the only natural approach that enables mainstreaming of hearing impaired children into the society.