Cochlear implants are surgically implanted electronic devices that provide a sense of sound to people who are profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing. Unlike hearing aids, which amplify sound, cochlear implants bypass damaged portions of the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve. This allows those with severe or total deafness to gain some measure of useful hearing. Cochlear implants are most successful in providing hearing to those who were born deaf or lost their hearing at a very young age.
How do Cochlear Implants work?
Cochlear implants include an external microphone, speech processor, and receiver/stimulator. The external microphone picks up sound from the environment and converts it into electrical signals that travel along a thin wire to the receiver/stimulator inside the skull. The receiver/stimulator converts the signals into electrical pulses and then sends them to the electrodes inside the cochlea, which stimulate the auditory nerve. The auditory nerve carries sound information to the brain, interpreting it as sound.
Cochlear Implants do not restore natural hearing, but they can enable individuals to understand speech and sound better and improve sound localization.
Who is a candidate for Cochlear Implants?
Cochlear implants work best for people with severe to profound hearing loss. If you or someone you know has difficulty understanding speech, even with a hearing aid, they may be a good candidate for a cochlear implant. It’s essential to contact your audiologist or ENT Doctor to discuss the potential benefits of a cochlear implant and find out if you or a loved one is a good candidate for the procedure.
What is the surgical procedure for cochlear implants?
Cochlear implant surgery typically takes about two to three hours and is performed under general anesthesia. The surgeon makes a small incision behind the ear to access the inner ear and places the internal device. The electrodes are inserted into the cochlea, connected to a computerized processor behind the ear. Once in place, patients can begin using their implant immediately and will need regular check-ups and adjustments.
What happens after cochlear implant surgery?
After surgery, it may take a few weeks for the patient to become accustomed to using the cochlear implant. During that time, they will need regular check-ups and adjustments to ensure the device works correctly.
Is rehabilitation needed after Implant surgery?
Rehabilitation after receiving a cochlear implant is also critical. A cochlear implant user should receive ongoing support from an audiologist who can help them adjust to the new device and learn how to interpret sound more effectively. This rehabilitation typically includes listening training, hearing aid adjustment, speech reading, and auditory skill development. With proper care and regular follow-ups with their audiologist, cochlear implant users will enjoy improved hearing.
For more information on cochlear implants, please get in touch with your Western New York ENT specialist or otolaryngologist. They can help you understand the benefits and risks of having an implant and provide information on how best to take care of your hearing device.