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Know How Does A Cochlear Implant Works!

Written and reviewed by
MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, MS - ENT
ENT Specialist, Delhi  •  29years experience
Know How Does A Cochlear Implant Works!

The inability to hear can be frustrating. Thankfully, children and adults with a severe hearing loss no longer have to rely on only sign language to communicate. Cochlear implants are hearing aids that can help treat loss of hearing. Unlike the other types of hearing aids available, cochlear implants do not amplify sounds but bypass the part of the ear that does not function properly and delivers sound to the auditory nerves in the form of electrical signals. In this way, it does not restore hearing or cure the loss of hearing but allows severely deaf people to hear sounds. Also, unlike other hearing aids, surgery is required to insert the cochlear implant.

Components of a Cochlear Implant
Cochlear implants can be worn by children and adults. They can be implanted in one ear or both ears at the same time. There are two components to a cochlear implant: the internal component and the external component.

  1. Internal component: There are two internal components of a cochlear implant. These must be surgically implanted under the patient’s skin. This surgery is usually performed while the patient is under general anaesthesia. It can typically take 2 to 4 hours and one night’s hospital stay may be needed after the surgery. The first is a receiver that is located under the skin of the temporal bone. This is accompanied by one or more electrode arrays.
  2. External component: Once the incision site has healed, the external components of the cochlear implant may be put in place. The external component of a cochlear implant can be further categorized into two units: the transmitter and the small hook-like part that wraps itself around the ear. This consists of the microphone and the speech processor. A small wire links the two units together. The transmitter is usually positioned over the internal part of the device.

How does a cochlear implant work?
The microphone behind the patient’s ear picks up sounds, amplifies them and transmits them to the speech processor. The processor then analyses the sounds and digitizes them. These signals are then forwarded to the transmitter which codes them and sends them to the internal receiver through magnetic coupling. The receiver converts the codes into electrical pulses and dispatches them to the electrodes. These electrodes are inserted seep into the inner ear. When they receive the signals, they stimulate the auditory nerve. These nerves then interpret the signals as sounds.

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