There are almost 100K severely hearing impaired or deaf Americans who’ve received a cochlear implant last year with the aim of improving the quality of their lives significantly. So, without further ado, let’s dig deeper and answer some key questions about cochlear implants.
1. What Are They?
Cochlear implants are very small electronic devices which get surgically implanted so that they provide electrical stimulation to the inner ear nerves. Each implant consists of two parts – a transmitter (which is external) and a receiver (which actually gets implanted). The transmitter is usually held in place by a magnet behind the ear. This system does simulate normal hearing, but it can’t reproduce it completely.
2. How Do They Work?
A cochlear implant is nothing like the other hearing aids. It bypasses all damaged portions of the ear and stimulates the auditory nerve directly. The brain then recognizes the signals sent by the auditory nerve as a sound. It takes some time to learn how to hear like this but it’s well worth it.
3. Who Gets Them?
It’s the U.S. Food and Drug Administration who makes that decision. Usually, it’s mostly those who are deaf or severely hard-of-hearing that get cochlear implants.
4. Is the Surgery Success Rate Good?
Usually, it is, but there are several factors which can affect the surgery such as the actual cause of the hearing loss, the age when the hearing loss occurred, the age when the procedure took place, and if any hearing aid has been used before. Young patients commonly experience fewer issues than adults.
5. Why Are They Controversial?
There are deaf people who prefer to remain deaf. They find the cochlear implants somewhat insulting and disrespectful.
Cochlear implants are an excellent example of how science helps people improve the overall quality of their lives. They may not be for everyone, but they are quite an interesting alternative to hearing aids.