Do I need a cochlear implant?

Cochlear implants are miracles of modern medicine. They are electronic devices that can literally give the deaf the ability to hear again. They are designed for patients who have severe to profound hearing loss in both ears, and are also suitable for patients who don’t receive adequate benefit from traditional hearing aids.

Through cochlear implants, hearing is the first of the five senses to be reproduced by technology. There is no upper age limit to being considered for an implant; infact, many older patients receive them. However, there is a minimum age,  they are currently FDA approved for adults and children 1 year old and above. If implanted early enough, a child born completely deaf may develop normal speech patterns and language skills, and may develop skills adequate enough to participate in a mainstream school environment. Cochlear implants are also effective for adult patients who may have had normal hearing at some point but then later lost it either progressively or suddenly from either aging or a problem with the inner ear.

It’s important to note that cochlear implants are not hearing aids,  they are a combination of two pieces: a processor – a piece that is worn on the outside of the head that is meant to detect sound and a receiver – a piece that is placed behind the ear that is essentially meant to transfer any detected sound into a message.

To be implemented, an operation is required place the receiver into a pocket that’s hidden under the skin behind the ear. The processor, however, is worn on the outside of the head so that it may detect sounds and then translate them into electrical signals that run across the skin to the receiver. The receiver then stimulates the nerves of hearing, and the messages travel to the brain, enabling the person to hear.

Before becoming a patient, special tests are needed to determine if someone is a candidate for a cochlear implant. If you think that you or you or your family member might be a candidate, consider making an appointment to see one of the specialists at the Shea Ear Clinic today.

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