The cochlear implant (CI) is the only medical device that can partially restore a human sense – hearing. This probably sounds quite technical and abstract at first, but for people with profound hearing loss the device can induce pure emotion. Care for an example?
Like many people who have never heard a sound before, little Malia was in awe when she experienced what it was like to hear for the very first time with her CI.
What is a CI exactly and how does it work?
A CI is an electronic hearing prosthesis made up of two components: the implant, which is placed under the scalp during surgery, and the speech processor with a transmitter coil, which is worn on the back of the head. Unlike hearing aids, which amplify sounds, CIs can bypass the damaged part of the inner ear, allowing even people with profound hearing loss to hear again. Watch the video to see how this miracle of technology exactly works:
How well can you hear with a CI?
The idea that a CI can be turned on like a light switch and you can immediately hear well from then on is wrong. In the case of CIs, people talk more about a journey to hearing, which is a step-by-step process and unique to each individual. This is because people with a CI need to first learn how to hear. How quickly people with CIs learn to hear depends on several factors:
- How old they were when the hearing loss occurred and how long it has lasted
- How old they are when the CI is implanted – the younger the person is when the hearing loss is treated, the better
- The medical condition of the inner ear
- Which technology is used
- How good the follow-up care is (checks and speech therapy)
In general, however, modern CIs make it possible to hear and understand well – even in loud environments and on the phone. Developments have made rapid progress over the last few years in this respect. For example, listening to music with the CI, which has been considered problematic up until now, can now be enjoyed even more thanks to new technology. Learn more about enjoying music with a cochlear implant.
How a CI can change lives
CIs open up the world of sounds for people who cannot hear. Particularly, children with profound hearing loss can benefit from CIs.. Because by age three, children should be hearing around 30,000 words a day in order to learn to speak well before they start school. Early hearing loss treatment is therefore crucial for children, if parents decide to get them fit with a CI.
A CI can also be the start of a new and confident life with significantly improved communication for adults with profound hearing loss, giving them new, positive social and career opportunities.
By the way: For the first time in its history, which stretches back over 10 years, the Hear the World Foundation has donated CIs to three disadvantaged children in Panama. You can find more information and watch a great video here: https://www.hear-the-world.com/de/engagement/aid-projects/continents/north-america/panama-giving-panamanian-children-the-gift-of-hearing