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Extraordinary Functioning of Cochlear implants

Published Date : June 07, 2017

Cochlear implants (CI) are pocket-sized compound electronic devices that are implanted surgically and deliver sense of sound to people who are suffering from hearing impairment or are completely deaf. Thorough research undertaken on cochlear implants market mentions that, worldwide there are over 250,000 consumers using cochlear implants of which almost 12,000 are in UK alone. Even though such implants do not entirely cure the deafness or hearing impairment, but they are a type of prosthetic alternatives which assist in stimulating the cochlea directly. Cochlea implants have been in testing mode since 2014, and were initially used in individuals who acquired deafness in one year after they learnt the ability to speak. Cochlear implants are well-known to thwart the normal process of hearing. These implants comprise of a microphone and some electronic setup that is placed externally on the skin and this setup channels a signal wave to a broad range of electrodes situated in the cochlea, which stimulates the cochlear nerve. Cochlea implants are particularly projected for children and adults who have sensorineural hearing loss. This particular condition usually results in extreme damage to the tiny hair cells in a said part of the inner ear called the cochlea. These tiny hair cells play a significant role in the process of hearing, they are responsible to gather sound vibrations and channel them to the brain through auditory nerve and when such cells get damaged, the surrounding sound does not reach the nerve. In such cases, cochlear implants overlook the hair cells which are damaged and as an alternative directly send sound signals to the auditory nerve.

Functioning of cochlear implant:

These implants consist of external device which is positioned behind the ear and has all the necessary electrodes and another device which is placed under the skin surgically. An implant comprises of the following parts –

•    Microphone – to gather all the sound from the surrounding
•    Speech processor – collects and levels the collected sounds by the microphone
•    Receiver or stimulator and transmitter – which takes the signals from the speech processor and then changes them into electronic impulses
•    Tiny electrodes that collects the stimulator-generated impulses and takes them to the other areas of the auditory nerve

Completely normal hearing is not restored with the help of these implants, instead these render constructive representation of sounds in the surroundings and let the person to apprehend and acknowledge the speech.

If an individual has an extreme hearing problem, cochlear implants can lucratively be life-changing. Below-mentioned are some of the advantages of using cochlear implants –

•    Capability to hear any type of speech at all normal levels
•    Capability to understand any speech with having to lip read
•    Ability to converse on the phone and hear television
•    Understand and hear music better
•    Can gather, soft, medium and loud noises
•    Can control self voice in order to make it more clear and crisp to others

Future potential of Cochlear Implants

In order to enhance and improve the benefits of cochlear implants, The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) supports various researches. Scientists are involved in research and development to determine whether using concise electrode array that is placed in a particular part of cochlea, for example, it may help people who have restricted hearing to high frequency at the same time saving the hearing capacity of lower frequencies. As a matter of fact, several research scientists are seeking to paring a cochlear implant in the other ear with the implant in one cochlea with hearing aid.

Crystal Market Research published a report on “Cochlear Implants Market by Type and End User - Global Industry Analysis and Forecast to 2025 ” released and accessible at http://www.crystalmarketresearch.com/report/cochlear-implants-market