All about cochlear hearing aids and cochlear implants
Technological advances in the field of medicines, and developing sound related devices have made it possible for people who are extremely deaf or severely difficult of hearing. The cochlear implants and hearing aids help in providing a sense of sound to the person by bypassing through their damaged hair cells. The cochlear implants and a hearing aid doesn’t increase the sound that they take into the year. Instead a cochlear implant, takes the sound directly to the auditory nerve which indeed sends signals to the brain. Even though the cochlear implant exactly doesn’t replace the inner ear, it lets the person to pick majority of sound around him. The person using hearing aids and cochlear implants will really not have any difficulty in having a telephonic conversation. The person should be able to pick up common sounds like alarms, telephone rings, people’s speech and doorbells. In comparison to other hearing aid devices, patients were able to better perceive and recognize sounds in a noisy environment having cochlear implants and hearing aids.
How does a cochlear implant works?
Difficulty in hearing is usually caused by the damage to the hair cells present in the region known as cochlea, that are responsible in picking up and carrying the sounds to the auditory nerve. Then the auditory nerve carries these vibrations (sounds) to the brain where they are processed helping the person to hear. When these hair cells in the cochlea region are damaged, it is not possible for the sound to reach the auditory nerve. This is where the hearing aid and a cochlear implant comes in handy ensuring that the vibrations (sound) reaches the auditory nerve.
The cochlear device is made up of two parts. The inner receiver-simulator part and other outer speech processor. The implant is made through a surgery, where the inner receiver-simulator part is placed underneath the skin, while the outer speech processor is worn behind the ear and is usually a bit larger compared to normal hearing aid devices.
For a hearing aid and a cochlear implant electrodes connect the internally placed receiver implanted under the skin, to the cochlea. This process usually takes about 1 to 2 hours, and the patient is sent home on the same day. After 1 to 2 weeks from the date of initial surgery of implanting the receiver, the external device, a microphone will be connected to the processor. The microphone device can we worn at a comfortable position depending on the person using it. When there are sound vibrations (or simply sounds) around the person using the cochlear implant, the microphone and processors picks these vibrations and sends them to the transmitter, which in-turn decodes into electric signal and transmits to the receiver implanted under the skin. These received electrical signals are further delivered through the electrodes to the inner region of the cochlea. These electrodes underneath the skin simulate the auditory nerve which carries these electrical signals to the brain, where they are once again processed and helping the person to recognize sounds.
Numbers around the world:
Promising a potential aid to the people suffering from hearing, the cochlear implants have been of a great help. Half a million people around the world are able to enjoy hearing and recognizing sounds due to these hearing implants, cochlear implants. In US over 60,000 adults and 40,000 children are using cochlear Implants.
With high technology embedded into the cochlear implants, the cost of the device prevents large number of people from experiencing the technology. People who wish to have experience stereo sound with the hearing aid technology, bilateral hearing implants need to be installed. This only increases the cost of whole device, which is the major barrier restricting it from mass usage among people. Even, a long term audio therapy is also required to aid the person with the implant in interpreting the sound waves coming from the device.
With the cochlear implant come advantages and risks. While many people develop a near close hearing level because of these hearing implants, other have been impacted due to the various illness developed after the cochlear implants.
Advantages that people have with Cochlear Implants and Hearing Aids :
Many people feel the hearing capability have been much better, close to normal level of hearing. The person would be able to experience music much better than ever before. No need of lip reading required. Communicating with people becomes much easier. Telephonic conversations can be easily carried out. Soft, subtle, loud and other ranges of sounds can be picked up with minimum difficulty.
With the advancement in technology and medical sciences, people with hearing problems are able to find an alternative that can aid them in hearing. Even though a cochlear implant may not necessarily cure deafness, but it is definitely a great substitute for sense of hearing. With the major barrier being the cost of cochlear implant, researchers are developing new techniques and devices that can possibly bring down the costs. Concerning about the complications and risk involved post the surgery, measures like vaccinating prior to surgery greatly dims the cases of meningitis. We should be able to overcome complications related to nerve damage and other internal features with the aid of latest computer and imaging technology. Overall, the cochlear implants have made a great impact and helped people to regain their sense of hearing to a good extent if not wholly.