Cochlear Implant Can Help The Deaf
by Mike Selvon
Over the course of many decades, there have been a variety of methods to deal with hearing loss and provide ways for people who have hearing problems to enjoy better hearing levels. Hearing aids have been one of the primary forms of assistive listening devices and they have undergone many changes and improvements thanks to high-tech advancements. One option to hearing aids for the profoundly deaf has been cochlear implant surgery, which has become more well-known and widely accepted in recent years.
While the procedure to provide a patient with cochlear implants was first introduced in the mid 1960s, the use of these implants did not really become widespread until the early 1990s. In fact, there was, and still is, some resistance to these devices from the deaf community, which actually first reacted with protests to this new approach to providing better hearing to those with profound hearing loss and deafness.
Nowadays, the majority of opposition to cochlear implant technology is in the past and there is a greater level of acceptance toward cochlear implants by the tight-knit deaf community. One of the main concerns, and sources of resistance, was the worry that the very unique culture that the deaf community enjoys would be threatened if the use of these implants became widespread.
Now some years later, however, it seems the fear of extinguishing the strong and proud culture of the profoundly deaf was mostly unfounded. Today, cochlear implants are no longer seen as a threat to that lifestyle but instead, as an alternative for better hearing.
Cochlear implants are also often referred to as an “internal hearing aid.” But it should be made clear that cochlear implants are not the equivalent of the hearing aid products known as implantable hearing aids. The main difference is that the cochlear implants utilize electricity to directly stimulate nerves in the auditory system while the implantable hearing devices are essentially exactly the same as a standard hearing aid, simply implanted “permanently.”
Traditional hearing loss hearing aids simply amplify the sounds. Cochlear implants work differently in that they “rewire” the internal workings in such a way that it actually bypasses the hair cells that have been damaged in the ear. Because of this approach, not everyone with severe hearing loss is eligible for cochlear implants.
If the patient still has a certain level of hearing, then they might be rejected for this procedure. The reason for this is that the implant will destroy any natural hearing that is still functioning in the ear that receives the implant.
One interesting note to point out is that even after someone receives an implant, they are still considered to be deaf. In fact, they have the ability to turn their cochlear implants off and when the implants are not on, they are totally deaf.
More and more deaf adults are deciding to take advantage of the benefits of a cochlear implant and parents, especially hearing parents, are more often seeking out cochlear implants for their children who are either born deaf or who have had an illness or accident that has left them with severe hearing loss. The choice is one that is very personal and should be undertaken only in conjunction with trusted advice from qualified professionals.