Cochlear implants have a high success rate as medical prostheses because only less than 0.2% of recipients reject them.
Adults often benefit immediately after the placement of the implant. The sound quality continues to improve for about 3 months after the initial tuning sessions. Cochlear implant users’ performances continue to improve for several years.
However, there are risks attached to cochlear implant surgery. There is a possibility that the surgery will fail and will not restore hearing.
What is a cochlear implant?
A cochlear implant is a surgical procedure to place an electronic device that partially restores hearing. It’s the most suitable option for people with severe to profound hearing loss from inner-ear damage.
A cochlear implant has internal and external devices, and it works by stimulating the nerves of the inner ear or cochlea. The external devices comprise a microphone, speech processor, and transmitter.
The external device receives the sound waves. The sound waves are turned into digital signals, which are then directed to the transmitter. Finally, the signal reaches the receiver, which is placed below the skin, behind the ear. When the receiver receives digital signals, it converts them to electrical signals. These signals are sent to electrodes in the cochlea, which excites the cochlear nerve. The nerve sends them to the brain. The outcome is a sense of hearing.
Cochlear implants do not restore normal hearing but help people understand speech. You require speech therapy and rehabilitation to understand the interpretation of these sounds.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the use of cochlear implants. Hence, they are covered by insurance policies, Medicare, Medicaid, and Vocational Rehabilitation.
Who can have a cochlear implant?
A cochlear implant is recommended in people for whom a hearing aid is of little use. For most people, the implants won’t be as effective as the hearing aid. A cochlear implant is usually prescribed in
- Children who are born deaf.
- Young or middle-aged adults with hearing loss due to genetic causes, autoimmune disease, or unknown reasons.
- Older adults with progressive hearing loss due to aging or noise exposure.
What are the complications of a cochlear implant?
There are some potential risks with cochlear implant surgery, which include:
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
- Dry mouth
- Taste changes
- Facial paralysis
- Balance Issues
- Meningitis (inflammation of the meninges surrounding the brain and spinal cord)
- Surgery to remove implant (due to an infection) or fix a defective implant
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