For any person who has suffered from hearing loss in their life, there has always been the hope and expectation that technology will grow to the point where it can offer relief. However, for people who have such tremendous hearing damage that neither technology nor surgery can help them, there has been little to celebrate. The latest round of technological support and bio-mechanical devices has produced the electric cochlear implant, a device that looks to bring new hope to these people who have severe hearing loss or damage to hearing organs.
What Is A Cochlear Implant?
To put it simply, an electric cochlear implant is a device that consists of five unique pieces that is designed to help people who suffer from hearing loss regain the ability to hear, no matter how far their hearing abilities have gone. The first piece of the electric cochlear implant is the microphone. Other parts of the device that are located outside of the skin are the transmitter as well as the speech processor unit box. Underneath the skin are the electrode bundle and the receiver, both integral parts to creating the hearing sensation.
How Does It Function?
The cochlear implant functions by using outside sounds as a source of energy input. The device’s microphone system picks up sound that is occurring around the user and transformed it into electrical input, before sending it to the speech processor box. The speech processor box takes the sound in and then transforms it into another form entirely, the magnetic wave signal. This signal is shot through the outside of the device until it reaches the loop near the transmitter. The transmitter then has to send all of the information through the skin barrier and into the waiting receiver.
Once the receiver has this electrical information, it is able to send it along pathways in the body to the electrode bundle, which is implanted along the auditory nerve and in the face. The electrode bundle of the cochlear implant uses electricity to stimulate the nerves and make the brain believe that it is actually receiving sound input. The result is a rough, synthetic sound that mimics hearing.
What Are The Benefits?
The benefits to this device are that it has the ability to produce hearing in people who could not use other methods due to the lack of a working hearing organ. The electrical cochlear implant works because it can go directly to the brain with the sound, and still produce workable hearing. Along with some lip reading, most people are able to hold normal conversations after their implant is placed. For others, they have better outcomes and are able to talk on the phone or even watch television with ease. While these devices do need a surgery, the long list of benefits is difficult to ignore with such a device as this one.