When hearing aids are not enough to provide adequate benefit for significant hearing loss, Cochlear Implants may be an option. This is true for patients with word understanding poorer than 50%. However, determination would require a medical evaluation with a neurotologist and cochlear implant evaluation with an audiologist.
A cochlear implant involves inserting an electrode array into the inner ear, essentially bypassing the damaged hair cells, to stimulate the auditory nerve directly. This device uses electrical impulses instead of acoustic stimulation to send the signal to the brain. A cochlear implant requires an external processor, which includes microphones to pick up the sound. A magnet is used to transmit the external sound to the internal processor. Success with a Cochlear Implant requires auditory rehabilitation exercises, and several follow up appointments. At Carolina Ear and Hearing Services, we work with all Cochlear implant manufacturers. Each manufacturer will be discussed in depth at the evaluation.
For patients with conductive or mixed hearing loss, or those that have chronic ear disease and or ear abnormalities/deformities where traditional amplification cannot be obtained, Osseointegrated Devices may be an option.
An OSSEOINTEGRATED DEVICE requires a titanium abutment or internal magnet with titanium screws to be inserted into the mastoid bone behind the ear. Over time, this abutment will become osseointegated with the bone. A processor which includes the microphones will pick up the sound and create a vibration that will stimulate the inner ear, bypassing the outer and middle ear.
This is a difficult question to answer as each patient will have a varying experience. In the beginning, most patient report a sound that is “mechanical,” “robotic,” or “cartoonish.” However, once the brain acclimates over time, the sound quality will improve. This typically takes around 6-12 months, sometime longer.
Your first visit will be your activation day which is one month following surgery. You will then follow up in 1-2 weeks, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months. After the first year, an annual cochlear implant check is recommended.
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