Cochlear Implant

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A cochlear implant consists of a small electronic device that is surgically implanted, an external speech processor, and a microphone which captures incoming sound in electrical signals that stimulate the auditory nerve fibers to send information to the brain where it is interpreted as meaningful sound. It improves the communication ability in adults and children who are profoundly deaf (“nerve deafness”) in one or both ears, helping them understand conversations. It does not restore hearing. It is the first major advance in research and technology since Sign Language was developed at the Paris deaf school. Individuals with profound hearing loss are limited because even the most powerful hearing aid can provide little to no benefit. Why? Because hearing aids are an electro acoustic body worn apparatus which typically fits in or behind the wearer's ear, designed to only amplify and modulate sounds for the wearer. In accordance, with the Itinerant Connection (2009), they are clearly not the same. In the seventies, in Australia and Austria, there were two groups of scientists working on the development of the multichannel Cochlear Implant. On December 16, 1977, Prof. Kurt Burian implanted a multichannel cochlear implant, device that was developed by the Scientists Ingeborg and Erwin Hochmair. In December 1984, the Australian cochlear implant was approved by the Food and Drug Administration to be implanted in adults in the United States.

According to Desert Sounds (2009), an implant consists of an external portion that sits behind the ear, and a second portion that is surgically placed under the skin. An implant has the following parts: 1) a microphone, which picks up sound from the environment; 2) a speech processor, which selects and arranges sounds picked up by the microphone; 3) a transmitter and receiver/stimulator, which receive signals from the speech processor and convert them into electric impulses; and, 4) an electrode array, which is a group of electrodes that collects the impulses from the stimulator and sends them to different regions of the auditory nerve. Concurring with the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (August, 2009), cochlear implants bypass damaged portions of the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve. Signals generated by the implant are sent by way of the auditory nerve to the brain, which acknowledges the signals as sound. Cochlear implants are designed for people who don’t gain benefits from hearing aids. The surgery is done under general anesthesia and lasts from two to three hours. One interesting detail is that hearing through a cochlear implant takes time to adapt. Finally, this little in size but big advance in technology, device has many deaf people receiving the benefits of enjoying a conversation.

The cochlear implant surgery for profoundly deaf or with no hearing, is done in developed countries worldwide. Even though it’s a very expensive procedure, many deaf people have done it. Due to the high cost of the device, surgery and post-implantation therapy you have to go through a process to see if you are candidate for the procedure. There are two types of cochlear implants: the intra-cochlear implant and the extra-cochlear implant. In both cases, the implant may be of single channel or multiple channel type. In single-channel implants only one electrode is used, whereas in multi-channel cochlear implants, an electrode array is inserted in the cochlea so that different auditory nerve fibers can be stimulated at different places in the cochlea. This investigation is focused in fourteen deaf people that live in the United States, and are deaf from birth, for medical reasons or other conditions. Preliminary research includes questions to: people that had the surgery done, family members and some college friends on what they knew about cochlear implants. Secondary research includes articles on the web about: news of the implant; news of companies that...
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