Cochlear implants are a treatment for hearing impairment that has helped many people hear better or perceive sound better. It is one of the medical advancements that have changed many lives since 1980. Researchers and scientists are always working on making it better and safer, but for now, these implants are the best option for both children and adults with severe hearing impairment.
How Does It Work?
A cochlear implant is a device that is implanted under the skin behind your hear through an operation. It also has an outside part that is placed behind your ear. Together, these two parts work to improve hearing for people with sensorineural hearing loss. This means that their hearing is impaired due to damage to the cochlea inside the ear. This damage is not reversible. So, what the cochlear implant does is it skips those damaged parts and goes straight to the auditory nerve.
When the outside part picks up on sounds, it sends it as electrical impulses through the device to the auditory nerve and makes you recognize sounds.
Why Get a Cochlear Implant?
There are many advantages of getting a cochlear implant if you suffering from severe hearing impairment. A hearing aid is often not sufficient when the damage is too severe. Implants have many advantages:
- You can hear and understand speech again without needing to lip read.
- Everyday things like watching television and talking on the phone become easier.
- Listening to music is easier.
- The device enables you to hear soft, medium, and loud noises.
Who Can Get One?
Any person who feels that their hearing impairment can be improved by a cochlear implant. Children from 1 year of age can get implants. It is a crucial time for language and speech development in children. Adults of any age can also get an implant.
It is important that you discuss your option for a cochlear implant with the right doctors and therapists. They will explain the risks and take into account your age, severity of impairment, health condition, and other factors. The operation for a cochlear implant is mostly safe, but you should consult professionals before you make a decision.
Cochlear implants may not be the best option for everyone. As with all things, your health and personal preference will play a role. These procedures can be expensive and if your medical aid doesn’t cover it, you may not be able to make use of this option. A cochlear implant can be the answer to your prayers, but you should always do your homework and discuss it with your doctor before making final decisions.
For more information on cochlear implants, visit the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD).