Cochlear implant is an electronic device used to stimulate the auditory nerve so that people who are severely hearing impaired can hear. The implant bypasses the damaged part of the ear and directly stimulates the auditory nerve unlike a hearing aid, which amplifies external sounds.
Although cochlear implant is being touted as the most beneficial breakthrough for hearing impaired people, it has its own pros and cons.
- Cochlear implant bypasses the cochlea, the source of the hearing problem.
- It will enable a person with severe hearing loss to hear conversation and learn spoken language easily.
- It will enable a person to make use of regular telephone which is not possible otherwise.
- It avoids problems related to acoustic feedback and earmold issues.
- The person will experience great ease in high frequency consonant perception such as sh, s, f, t, k, p, and h.
- Improvement in distance hearing in comparison with hearing aids.
- This has great potential for incidental learning.
- The person will have greater opportunity for natural sounding voice.
- It helps the person to communicate without using sign language or lip reading.
- This is a life saving technology for those who otherwise may not hear at all.
- Environmental and practical issues
- Static: radar detector, playgrounds, trampolines, computers, carpeting
- Pressure: restrictions such as scuba diving
- Magnetic: MRI restriction
- Trauma: restrictions of rough sports such as football
- Surgical issues
- Staph infection (low risk)
- Vertigo (low risk)
- Tinnitus (low risk)
- Partial facial nerve paralysis (temporary)
- Insurance and cost issues
- With inadequate insurance, medical cost and device is expensive
- Processor and accessories are expensive.
- Once the device is implanted, he has to stay with it for life. Replacement is again to cost for surgery and the device.
- Loud buzzing is heard when the user is within close proximity of neon lights. It will interfere with speech signals.
- Wearing a body processor is problematic
- Battery life span is very short. Replacement is expensive.
- Residual hearing is totally destroyed during implant surgery. When the device fails, the difference between hearing and non hearing is dramatic. This can give rise to emotional anguish unless the patient goes through another surgery for implant replacement.
- Long term effects of implants are not known.
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