Implantable Hearing Solutions
What is a Cochlear Implant?
Image from Advanced Bionics (www.advancedbionics.com)
CHHA-NL has a cochlear implant resource group open to Newfoundland and Labrador parents of children with a cochlear implant(s) or any adults with (or considering) cochlear implants.
The cochlear implant is an electronic device that can be considered for people with profound sensorineural hearing loss in both ears. The implant bypasses the diseased or nonfunctioning inner ear hair cells by converting the sounds we hear to electronic impulses that directly stimulate the inner ear nerve endings.
The implant consists of an external part made up of a microphone, a sound processor and an external canal and an internal part that must be surgically implanted.
The procedure involves placing an internal coil under the skin behind the ear and stimulating electrodes directly within the inner ear or cochlea. Sometime after the surgical implantation, the internal and external coils are connected and the device is charged and ready for use.
Can anybody be a candidate for Implant?
The ideal candidate is a child born with profound hearing loss or an adult who has become profoundly hearing impaired and for whom a hearing aid is no longer useful. There is extensive pretesting and postoperative testing involved so the individual must be highly motivated.
Will a Cochlear Implant restore normal hearing?
No. While there is extensive research on going to improve cochlear implants, at the present time, they do not restore normal hearing sounds. It will improve the persons awareness of environmental sounds and ability to understand speech combined with lipreading.
What about profoundly hearing impaired children?
More and more children are receiving cochlear implants, in fact in most cases they are given priority.
BONE CONDUCTION AMPLIFICATION DEVICE (BCAD)
What is a BCAD?
The Bone Conduction Amplification Device (BCAD) is a surgically implanted system which works through direct bone transmission. This means that the implant itself vibrates within the skull and inner ear. This stimulates the nerve fibers of the inner ear and allows hearing. The BCAD is best suited for people who have chronic ear infections, obstruction of the ear canal, and single sided deafness.
The BCAD is made up of three parts: a titanium implant, a small external portion, and a sound processer. By having this set up the sound is able to bypass the external auditory canal and middle ear and enter into the inner ear. This means that people who have issues with the structure of the ear, or people with chronic ear infections, will not have to have anything obstructing the opening of the ear.
Also for those who have single sided deafness the apparatus is placed on the side with the non-hearing ear which then transfers sound through the bone which stimulates the cochlea of the normal hearing ear. This transmission of sound from the bad side to the normal ear results in a sensation of hearing from the deaf ear. This benefits the hard of hearing person because stereo sound is achieved. Stereo sound causes a better understanding of speech and also causes the hard of hearing person to be able distinguishing between background noise and the noise they need to focus on.
MIDDLE EAR IMPLANTS
Image from MED-EL (www.medel.com)
About Middle Ear Implants
The Middle Ear Implant is a newer technology approved by the FDA in 2002. After this time it has been seen by many as a strong aid in achieving better hearing. The Middle Ear implant consists of an internal device, which is surgically implanted and also there is an external component which is called the Audio Processor. The external piece is worn behind the ear and there are no visible wires.
To receive a Middle Ear Implant one must be 18 years or older and having difficulty or dissatisfaction with traditional hearing aids. It is also important for the recipient to keep an open mind about the outcome and issues with any hearing device. For the Middle Ear Implant the hard of hearing person should have mild to severe hearing loss with a fifty percent word recognition score and a normal middle ear function meaning no middle ear surgeries.
There are many benefits to a Middle Ear Implant, if it is the best fit for you. Due to not having anything in the ear the feeling of a full or hollow sound (the occlusion effect) and the need for repair as a result of wax or moisture problems is eliminated.
The Middle Ear Implant works by picking up sound, by the external processer, and transferring it across the skin electromagnetically to the implanted receiver. The receiver then transmits the signal to the implant which creates vibrations in the ear and copies the function of a normal ear. This vibration is then sent to the cochlea which in turn is sends the signal to the brain for interpretation. Since the implant bypasses the middle ear, sound goes directly into the cochlea therefore avoiding problems with reduced sound.