When a Hearing Aid Doesn't Help
Hearing aids amplify sounds to make up for the damage to the hair cells in the inner ear. In some people with severe to profound hearing loss, the hair cells are so damaged that a hearing aid does not provide benefit. For those individuals, a cochlear implant might be considered. A cochlear implant is NOT a hearing aid and requires a surgical procedure for insertion. It is prescribed only for people with severe to profound loss who do not benefit at all from hearing aids.
In the surgery, electrodes are implanted in the inner ear (cochlea). A tiny microphone is placed near the ear and this is attached to a cable and processor that converts the sound to a digital signal. The digital signal goes to a transmitter that attaches to the head by a magnet. The transmitter sends the signals by means of a radio wave across the skin to the implanted electrode in the cochlea. The electrodes stimulate the auditory nerve (taking the place of the damaged hair cells) and the signals are then sent to the brain to be interpreted.
Cochlear implants are often very successful. They are expensive ($50,000+) but many insurance policies now cover them. An important part of the cochlear implant procedure is the rehabilitation and the "tuning" of the implant that follows the surgery. Individuals must be willing to take the time to go through this process for the maximum success.
Middle Ear Implants or Implantable Hearing Aids
These devices are still in the investigative stage and have not yet been FDA approved. Unlike a cochlear implant, this device is used for people who have either been a hearing aid user or can benefit from hearing aid use. This surgical procedure actually places the receiver of the hearing aid on one of the small bones in the middle ear. It allows amplification to be provided to the inner ear but by-passes the ear canal. If you would like additional information:
For more information, please visit www.otologics.com
Assistive Listening Devices
Other devices called Assistive Listening Devices, are available for those with hearing impairment that might be used instead of, or in addition to, a hearing aid. These include: television listening devices, telephone amplifiers, personal amplifiers, FM systems, light or vibration alarm systems, etc. Many of these solutions can be inexpensive and provide just the additional help a person might need for a particular situation. We can provide some of these devices or we might refer you to an outside source.
Click here to visit ADCO Hearing Products, a local provider: www.adcohearing.com