Severe Hearing Loss And Advancements In Cochlear Implants
child with hearing loss will not be able to hear anything important during a discussion in class without visual aids. Their vocabulary will also be limited when compared to their classmates or peers and they will not often hear the ending sound of a word, because of which their written word will also miss that part.
These children will find classes tiresome as they require a lot of concentration to understand the most basic things. Also. they do not understand complicated sentences, struggle to explain their ideas and opinions to others, have limited social skills and also poor voice quality. Therefore, their disability often hinders their learning growth.
A cochlear implant is an electronic device that converts sounds to electrical signals that the brain understands as sounds and delivers them to the brain via the hearing nerve. It f me tunes the sound much like a graphic equaliser. using an electrode array surgically implanted into the inner ear.
This implant is useful for those who have severe hearing loss where wearing hearing aids is not helpful in hearing speech even at loud volume and without the hearing aid, would not even hear the loudest shout.
Who Can Benefit?
A cochlear implant is suitable for anyone with severe hearing loss in both the ears with a functioning hearing nerve, for anyone who has been afflicted with hearing loss for a while, for those who have no medically proven reasons for avoiding surgery and for those with no help from hearing aids and a strong support group.
Components Of Cochlear Implants
- A cochlear implant consists of an external device that looks like a hearing aid. It captures sound and tunes the sound like the graphic equaliser on a music system. It uses software and then transmits the sound like a radio station to the surgically implanted device.
- The surgically implanted part consists of an antenna which picks up sounds from the external device. a processor which takes the sound and sends it to different parts of the electrode that is implanted in the inner ear.
- The electrode array works on different electrodes which by switching off and on cause different parts of the hearing nerve end to receive stimulation that the brain perceives as sound of different frequencies.
Background And Advancements These devices were first introduced in India in 1987 and they have changed a lot since their introduction. The external device has become smaller, light, more microphones to pick up sound and software with faster processors to process more sound and present dearer sound to the patient.
They have also become smarter and can send and receive data from the implanted device to diagnose problems and improve efficiency of sound transmission to the brain.
Then And Now (Benefits)
- The implanted device is much smaller, light, and electronically smarter and can send diagnostic information back to the external device.
- It also occupies less space and does not require a lot of surgical exposure.
- The electrode array has more electrodes and is slimmer and less damaging to the inner ear structure. This helps in the delivery of more information to the healing nerve while preserving residual hearing, which results in better speech and sound understanding even in noisy environments.
- Also, since the materials used are much advanced, the body rarely rejects the device.
- Surgery is also more precise and less invasive making the patient heal quickly so that the patient does not have to stay in the hospital for a long time.
- The software used is advanced, making it easier for doctors to fine tune the device to suit the patient.
- This software also makes it easy for the patient to understand sounds and speech better, even in noisy spaces and helps the patient hear sounds better.
- The cost of both the surgery and the device is much lower than before and is constantly reducing, as the devices are now being mass produced and the time on surgery is also reducing with the use of less invasive methods.