A cochlear implant is very different from a hearing aid. The function of the hearing aid is to amplify the sound so that a damaged ear which is weak and hard of hearing can detect the same and it helps in his hearing process.
If the damage is confined to the outer and the middle portion of the ear, the hearing aid is helpful to make the sounds audible for the inner ear to detect and communicate to the brain.
When the damage is deeper than that and the hair cells located inside the cochlear in the inner ear are damaged due to a number of causes such as acoustic trauma, ototoxic drugs, bacterial or viral infections, autoimmune disease, and genetic disorders, a simple hearing aid will not be effective to restore the hearing faculty.
Cochlear implant or the bionic ear is an option that is available from the present state of technology. This can restore hearing capability in adults who are deaf or severely hard of hearing. The implant does not restore normal hearing. Instead to a hearing impaired person it can give a useful representation of sounds and help him to understand speech. Hearing through a cochlear implant is different from normal hearing and takes time to learn. Adults, who lost hearing at a later stage in their life, have to learn to associate with the signal provided by the implant with the sounds they remember. Once they get used to the implant, they will not need lip reading or any sign language for communication.
Cochlear implant in children has to be provided with post implantation therapy to help them acquire speech, language and social skills. Early implantation can provide exposure to sounds and will be helpful in the critical period for the children to learn language skills. The FDA has lowered the eligibility of children to receive cochlear implant as 12 months.
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