Cochlear Implants Thesis

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Cochlear Implants

A cochlear implant can help to provide a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard-of-hearing. It is a small, complex electronic device that consists of an external portion that sits behind the ear and a second portion that is surgically implanted under the skin. An implant does not restore normal hearing to a person; instead it gives a deaf person a useful depiction of sounds that are in the environment and helps them to understand speech (Cochlear Implants, 2007). The first commercial devices were approved by the FDA during the 1980's, although research on this device began in the 1950's (Cochlear Implants, 2009). The FDA regulates the manufacture and distribution of cochlear implants. In order for manufacturers to sell cochlear implants in the United States, they must first show the FDA that their implants are safe and effective (Cochlear Implants, 2009).

An implant has the following internal and external parts:

A microphone, which is used to pick up sound from the environment.

A speech processor, which selects and arranges the sounds that are picked up by the microphone.

A transmitter and receiver/stimulator, which receives the signals from the speech processor and convert them into electric impulses.

An electrode array, which is a group of electrodes that collects the impulses received from the stimulator and sends them to different regions of the auditory nerve (Cochlear Implants, 2007).

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The external parts include the microphone, the speech processor, and the transmitter. The microphone looks very similar to a behind the ear hearing aid. It picks up sounds and sends them to the speech processor. The speech processor is often together with the microphone, behind the ear or it can be in a small box that is worn in a chest pocket. The speech processor is a computer that evaluates and digitizes the sound signals and sends them to a transmitter that is worn on the head just behind the ear. The transmitter sends the coded signals to an implanted receiver that lies just under the skin (Cochlear Implants, n.d.).

TOPIC: Thesis on Cochlear Implants Assignment

The internal or implanted parts include the receiver and electrodes. The receiver is placed just under the skin behind the ear. The receiver obtains the coded electrical signals from the transmitter and delivers them to the collection of electrodes that have been surgically inserted in the cochlea. The electrodes then stimulate the fibers of the auditory nerve which produces sound sensations that are perceived (Cochlear Implants, n.d.).

A cochlear implant is very different from a traditional hearing aid. Hearing aids make sounds louder so they may be detected by ears that are damaged. Cochlear implants bypass any damaged portions of the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve. Signals that are generated by the implant are sent by way of the auditory nerve to the brain. The brain then recognizes the signals as sound. Hearing through a cochlear implant is very different from normal hearing though, and takes time to learn or relearn. It does however allow many people to recognize warning signals, understand many sounds in the environment, and participate in a conversation in person or over the telephone (Cochlear Implants, 2007).

Cochlear implants can be used in children and adults who are deaf or severely hard of hearing. At the end of 2006 more than 112,000 people worldwide had received cochlear implants. In the United States, nearly 23,000 adults and 15,500 children have received them. Adults who have lost all or most of their hearing later in life often benefit from cochlear implants because they learn to associate the signal that is provided by an implant with sounds they remember. This often helps recipients to understand speech solely by listening through the implant, without requiring any visual cues such as lip reading or sign language. Cochlear implants, together with intensive post implantation therapy, can often help young children to acquire speech, language, and social skills. Children who receive implants are usually between two and six years old. This early implantation helps to provide exposure to sounds that can be useful during the critical period when children develop speech and language skills. "In 2000, the FDA lowered the age of eligibility to 12 months for one type of cochlear implant" (Cochlear Implants, 2007).

In order to use a cochlear implant it requires both a surgical procedure and significant therapy to learn or relearn the sense of hearing after insertion. Not everyone has the same results from the use of a cochlear implant. Surgical implantations are almost always safe, although general surgical complications are a risk factor. A person must also consider the time and effort that will be needed to learn to interpret the sounds that are created by an implant. In general speech/language pathologists and audiologists are involved in this learning process. Prior to implantation, all of these factors need to be considered by the patient (Cochlear Implants, 2007).

There are many cochlear implant centers around the country at which a patient can be seen. Teams of professionals often work together with adults and children from the beginning through the end. These team members include audiologists, otologist/surgeons, medical specialists, psychologists, counselors, and speech-language pathologists. They work with candidates and their families in order to determine if an implant is right for them (Cochlear Implants, n.d.).

Once a person is referred to the cochlear implant center there is extensive testing done in order to determine whether the person is a suitable candidate for the procedure. This usually includes extensive audiologic testing, psychological testing, an examination and tests performed by the surgeon, X-rays, MRIs, a physical examination, and counseling. It is important that the candidate understands the entire process of and what the implant will and will not do. Once the decision is made to go ahead, the surgery is then performed. This sometimes involves an overnight stay in the hospital, and sometimes it is done on an out patient basis (Cochlear Implants, n.d.).

In about 4-6 weeks after the surgery, the patient returns to the center to be fitted with the microphone and speech processor and to activate and program the implant. The initial fitting takes several days and may include additional visits over many months. The reason for this is that as each electrode in the cochlea is turned on, it must be adjusted and programmed into the speech processor. As a person begins using the implant, further adjustments and reprogramming are often required. Once the most favorable program is obtained, fewer visits are necessary. Usually there are annual follow up visits to the center for checkups (Cochlear Implants, n.d.).

The clinic will usually give the patient the external components of the implant about a month after the surgery during the first programming session. This waiting period gives the patient time for the operative incision to heal completely. After about 3 to 6 weeks the swelling is gone, so the clinician can do the first fitting and programming. An audiologist will adjust the sound processor to fit the implanted patient, test the patient to ensure that the adjustments are correct, determines what sounds the patient can hear, and gives information on the proper care and use of the device (Cochlear Implants, 2009).

Benefits that are seen from an implant depends on the type of communication training that a person used before they got the implant and the type of communication that they received afterwards. To get maximum benefit from a cochlear implant, a person will need individual training which includes:

speech training lip reading training auditory training (Cochlear Implants, 2009).

After an implant, patients have reported being able to hear near normal to no hearing improvement at all. Adults often benefit immediately from the surgery and continue to improve for about 3 months after the initial tuning sessions at which time the performance… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Cochlear Implants" Thesis in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Cochlear Implants.  (2009, July 6).  Retrieved October 26, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Cochlear Implants."  6 July 2009.  Web.  26 October 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Cochlear Implants."  July 6, 2009.  Accessed October 26, 2021.