A cochlear implant is an electronic medical device that replaces the function of a damaged inner ear.
- The aim of a cochlear implant is to provide the recipient with access to the range of sounds that are important for hearing speech.
- A cochlear implant does not amplify sound – it bypasses the damaged hearing system and stimulates the auditory nerve directly.
Why not use a hearing aid?
- Hearing aids amplify sound via the normal hearing pathway.
- For severe/profound hearing loss, the normal hearing pathway is damaged so amplification has little benefit. Hearing aids will make the sound louder but not clearer.
- Hearing aids cannot make high pitched sounds loud enough for a severe profound hearing loss.
The components of a cochlear implant
All current cochlear implants share the same basic components:
The internal component is inserted by a surgeon when the patient is under general anaesthetic. It consists of two parts:
1 – The receiver / stimulator package that sits underneath the skin and connects to the external speech processor via a magnet. It communicates with the external speech processor via FM signals.
2 – The electrode array is a cord of evenly spaced electrodes (contact points) which has been inserted inside the cochlea.
The external component consists of three parts:
1 – The microphones that collect the sound from the environment,
2 – The speech processor which converts the sound into a digital signal,
3 – The transmitting coil or headpiece that relays the information across the skin to the internal implant via an FM signal.
- What is a cochlear implant?
- How does it work?
- Who should have a cochlear implant?
- What does a cochlear implant sound like?
- Who manufactures cochlear implants?