Hearing impairment is considered to be one of the most severe forms of handicap, as it affects a person's ability to express themselves to their enviornment. Hearing aids have helped individuals with hearing impairment but it has its own limitations, specially when the degree of hearing loss is greater than severe degree. A cochlear implant has become a boon for those with greater than severe degree hearing loss.
A cochlear implant is an electronic device designed to help servely to profoundly hearing impaired indiviuduals who gain little or no benefit from hearing aids. Cochlear implant system converts everyday sounds into coded electrical impulses. These electrical pulses stimulates the hearing nerves, and the brain interprets them as sounds. The cochlear implants are effective in both children and adults, whether they are born with hearing impairment or hearing loss occurs later in life.
A cochlear implant system consists of two main parts:EXTERNAL
- Speech Processor (worn behind the ear)
- Contains the microphone, and the electronics that process sound.
- Cable and Transimitting Coil
- Battery Pack
- Implant (surgically placed under the skin)
- Consists of an electronics housing and the electrode array
How A Cochlear Implant Helps to Restore Hearing
For people with normal hearing, the ear processes sound effortlessly. Sound is conducted into the ear canal, and vibrates the eardrum. The eardrum is attached to the three small bones of hearing (ossicles) in the middle ear, which transmit the vibrations on to the inner ear (cochlea). The cochlea is the spiral-shaped organ that contains tiny hair cells that turn sound vibration into bioelectrical signals that are sent along the hearing nerve to the brain. These hair cells are arranged according to pitch, just like the keys on a piano keyboard. When the signals reach the brain, we hear.
For individuals with significant sensorineural hearing loss, sometimes called "nerve hearing loss", hearing is no longer effortless. Hearing aids can make sound louder, but for many people, this is just not enough to allow them to continue to function easily in a hearing world.
A cochlear implant can help these individuals by replacing and mimicking the functions of the outer, middle and inner ear.