People who suffer from intense hearing loss now have another means to explore restoring their hearing. It is called an electric cochlear implant, and is a device that helps people who previously had a small chance of hearing again, regain substantial hearing abilities. Though it is a complex device and requires a surgery, electric cochlear implants are gaining the respect of the medical community as well as those who have had positive outcomes from the device. It is important to examine the device in terms of its functions of possibilities, which we will do throughout this article.
What Are The Benefits?
There are many different benefits to using a hearing aid device such as the electric cochlear implant. These devices do not have the ability to fix the structures of the ears that have been damaged, and instead work to influence the brain directly to believe that it is taking in sounds from the environment normally. This bypass type procedure allows the hearing device user to speak with another person or watch television. While lip reading can be supplemental, for many people it is not a must, which also contributes to the ability to listen to music after using this device.
What Makes An Electric Cochlear Implant?
There are five separate pieces that go into making an electric cochlear implant. It is easiest to look at the items that are on the outside before looking at the implanted ones. The first device to make contact with sound on the outside of the body is the microphone. After this, there is the transmitter as well as the speech processor unit. On the inside of the body is a small transmitter piece as well as the electrode bundle that is responsible for creating the unique sounds.
How Does It Work?
The electric cochlear implant functions by bringing in external sounds through the microphone of the device. Next, the sound is sent through the speech processing unit where it is sorted according to the frequencies and transformed into a magnetic sound wave. These sound waves are sent into the transmission device which is typically placed behind the user’s ear, directly opposite of the receiver that is implanted beneath the skin. The transmitter is able to then take this transformed version of the sound and send it through the skin barrier into the receiver. This, in turn, uses a surgically implanted pathway to send the sound signals to the electrode bundle at the end of the electric cochlear implant. The electrode bundle completes the process by stimulating nerves based on the intensity of the sound waves, allowing the brain to mimic sounds as though they were originally passed through the ear. While the sound is certainly not as high quality as if it were heard by the ear, it is still a significant sensation for those who had no other hearing options available to them.