Cochlear implants are a means of surgical amplification for patients with severe-to-profound sensorineural hearing loss. There is an internal and external device as part of the implant. Appropriately-identified adults and children with severe to profound hearing loss can be implanted starting as early as 12 months of age.
Cochlear implants are used in the patient who cannot benefit from hearing aids. The cochlear implant is a device used to bypass the damaged organ of hearing and convert sound into electrical impulses that can directly stimulate the hearing nerve. The implant has of an external portion worn on the ear like a hearing aid or on the body. This device, called the sound processor, is comprised of a microphone, power compartment and external coil. The internal portion, which is typically made of ceramic or silicone, consists of an electrode array and must be surgically implanted. The surgical procedure involves the placement of an internal receiver beneath the skin behind the ear, and the electrode array, which is inserted into the organ of hearing, or the cochlea. The electrical signals are programmed by the audiologist to maximize speech perception and are controlled by the speech processor. The brain interprets these electrical impulses as sound.
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