Cochlear Implant is the implantation of an electronic device through surgery in a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing to provide him or her with a sense of sound. Cochlea is that part of the ear which has tiny hair cells. Damage of the tiny hair cells prevents sound to reach the auditory nerve and causes a type of Hearing Loss known as “sensorineural”. With the cochlear implant a bypass is made to the damaged hair cells and brings about the direct stimulation of the auditory nerve. For people who are suffering from severe hair loss, the benefits of cochlear implant may indeed be life changing. However the results may vary from person to person.
Components of Cochlear Implant:
The external part consists of a microphone which picks up sounds and transmits the same to the speech processor, which is a box type unit for analyzing the sound signals. The transmitter is a device placed behind the ear which sends the sound signals received to the receiver implanted in the internal part under the skin. The internal devices have an array of electro odes which are directly connected to the auditory nerve and thus get stimulated to provide the sensation of sound.
Cochlear Implants benefits and risks:
The benefits of Cochlear Implants are
- One may be able to hear speech at a normal level. – Adults may often benefit immediately. Within the first 3 months following the initial tuning process. There after the improvement may occur but at a reduced rate. In children however this may take more time.
- Following Cochlear Implantation one may be able to understand speech without lip reading. Even with lip reading the cochlear implant helps to understand speech.
- With Cochlear implant one may be able to make telephone calls and understand the voices over the telephone, which would not have been possible otherwise. This indeed serves as a major benefit.
- With Cochlear Implant many are able to watch Television easily and even enjoy music, which would have been impossible otherwise.
- Overall Cochlear Implantation aids in providing people suffering from severe hearing loss with more information, safety, better orientation, mobility, and better communication. Since following the implantation they have a better understanding of their environment, they are able to communicate better. Thus this helps to boost their self confidence in a big way.
However there are some risks of cochlear implant too, some major ones are as follows:
- Risk of injury to facial nerves: The nerve travels through the middle ear and provides movement to the muscles on the face. It lies very close to where the surgeon does the implant and element of risk of injury is always prevalent.
- Risk of leakage of cerebrospinal fluid: The brain is surrounded by this fluid and with the surgery of cochlear implant there is a risk that the same gets leaked.
- The risk of infections owing to the surgery is another imminent risk from the procedure of cochlear implant.
- Other risks include blood or fluid collection where the surgery is done, Tinnitus- a riging or buzzing sound in ear, numbness around the ear, etc.
To summarize t is to be noted that Cochlear Implant may benefit people with severe deafness in a big way, however owing to the various risk factors associated it is advisable that the implantation is done by a competent surgeon who would be able to carry out the surgery without causing any damage.