According to the National Medical Journal of India, between 1.59 and 8.8 per 1000 births are born with deafness. A child who is born deaf need not endure deafness for the rest of his life. A remarkable achievement of the ENT department is the innovation of cochlear implants. It is an electronic device that is capable of stimulating the auditory nerve. It does this stimulation with the help of the electrodes in the inner year. With the help of its advanced technology, deaf people can perceive sounds. Thus, we should admit that cochlear implantation is a boon for deaf children.
What is a cochlear implant, and how does it work?
A cochlear implant is a small electronic device. It is capable of offering a sense of sound to a person born deaf. It should be implanted only by experts at the ENT department. The implant has two portions. Its external portion will sit behind the ear. Its internal components are surgically placed under the skin. The parts of the device and its functions are as follows.
- The cochlear implant has a microphone – This helps to pick up sound from the environment.
- Speed processor – It selects and arranges the sound that the microphone picks up.
- Transmitter and stimulator – This receives signals from the speech processor and converts the signals into electric impulses.
- Electron array – It is a group of electrodes that collects the impulse from the stimulator. This again sends them to different portions of the auditory nerve
Cochlear implantation will not restore normal hearing. It gives a deaf person the best representation of the sounds in the environment. This device also helps the person to understand speech well.
How does a cochlear implant work?
Cochlear implants are different from hearing aids. Hearing aids will only amplify the sound. People with damaged ears can hear very well with hearing aids. Cochlear implantation helps to bypass the damaged portions of the ear and stimulate the auditory nerve directly. The implant will generate the signals that are sent to the brain. Hearing with the help of a cochlear implant is different from normal hearing. It will thus take a lot of time to learn and relearn the sounds. But it is an exceptional tool to recognize the important sounds in the environment.
A child with severe hearing loss can get cochlear implants. They can get this surgery as soon as they are nine months of age. NIH suggests that the first three years of life are very important for speech and language development. Therefore sooner the cochlear implantation, the better.
Who gets cochlear implants:
Experts at the ENT department state that cochlear implants are not for everyone. Children and adults who are severely deaf can get help from cochlear implants. Children with sensory-neural hearing loss can also get cochlear implantation. The person’s degree of understanding speech and distinguishing words also enhances their eligibility to get cochlear implants.
Cochlear implantation for children:
Experts at the ENT department generally perform this surgery in children. The surgical procedure is as follows.
- Doctors will generally sedate the child under general anesthesia.
- The surgeon will make a small incision behind the ear
- They will monitor the facial nerves and open the mastoid bone to reach the inner ear
- The electrodes of the cochlear implant will be placed directly in the cochlea.
- The receiver will be anchored under the skin
- Doctors will then close the incision and observe the child for many hours.
- Weeks after surgery, doctors will get a sound processor to activate the implant.
- The child should return for programming adjustments frequently to be able to understand the sounds.
Experts at the ENT department suggest that cochlear implantation is the best intervention for hearing loss. With the implant, the child can hear clearly and identify both soft and loud sounds. They will also be able to distinguish voices. The age of the child and their experience with hearing and language will enhance its outcome.