Cochlear implants are devices that are surgically implanted into the middle ear.
People with severe or profound hearing loss often experience greater challenges when navigating everyday life. They may not be able to comprehend speech, enjoy listening to music, or have other people understand them when they try to speak.
Rather than go through life without the ability to hear well, these individuals may benefit by undergoing cochlear implant surgery. By learning what cochlear implants are and what benefits they can offer to people with hearing loss, they could take the first important step in regaining this important sensory capability.
What are Cochlear Implants?
Cochlear implants work better than hearing aids for people who suffer from profound or severe hearing loss. They do not make sounds around the wearer louder or greater. Rather, these implants send signals directly to the nerve responsible for hearing.
Cochlear implants are recommended for patients who are 12 months of age or older. They comprise of two main parts: the internal part that is put in surgically behind the ear. This part connects to the electrodes that are inserted into the middle part of the ear. The external part features the processor for speech, the compartment for the batteries, and the microphone.
Before a patient opts for cochlea implants, it’s important for him or her to understand how the surgery is performed. This knowledge can help the patient prepare for the operation and know what to expect in the days and weeks afterward.
Cochlear Implant Surgery
Cochlear implant surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure under general sedation. The person receiving the implants is put to sleep before the surgery starts. After the patient is asleep, the surgeon then makes an incision behind the ear to expose the mastoid bone.
With the mastoid bone exposed, the surgeon then makes an opening in the middle ear to insert the implants. The electronic device that sits at the base of the electrode array is fitted behind the ear under the skin.
The external component is not fitted on the outside of the ear for several weeks after the initial implant surgery. Once it is fitted in place, however, the patient is taught how to use the implants and how to monitor and interpret sounds. He or she may need regular monitoring to ensure the implants continue to work as expected.
The Benefits of Cochlear Implants
Cochlear implants can offer a number of unique advantages to people who suffer from severe to profound hearing loss. To start, the implants let the wearer hear his or her own voice. Being able to detect and hear one’s own voice can go a long way in helping others understand what the implant wearer is saying when he or she speaks.
Likewise, the wearer can listen to music and hear sounds ranging from low to moderate and loud. This capability allows the person to watch TV, listen to music, and otherwise enjoy life in ways that were once not possible.