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Social Skills
For a child, hearing and speech are
essential tools of learning, playing
and developing social skills. In fact,
children learn to communicate
by imitating the sounds they hear
and if they have a hearing loss that
is undetected and untreated, they
can miss much of the speech and
language around them and in their
immediate environment. These
result in not only in delayed speech/
language development, but can also
lead to social problems and ultimately
academic difficulties. To help with
this problem, an ingenious scientific
innovation—the cochlear implant--
can help alleviate the deafness or poor
hearing in your child’s life.
HowWe Hear
To understand the way a cochlear
implant actually works, there should
be a basic understanding of the ear
anatomy and why deafness may
occur. The ear is made of three major
parts: the outer ear canal, the middle
ear apparatus which is formed of
the ear drum and 3 little tiny bones
called hammer, anvil, and stirrup,
the third part is the inner ear that is
divided into two organs which are
the cochlea and the balance organ or
the Labyrinth. When we hear, sounds
move through the ear, hit the ear
drum and move the three tiny bones
and in doing so, amplify sound. The
amplified sound gets delivered into the
cochlea which acts as a transformer.
This transforms the sound waves
into tiny electrical impulses and this
travel through the nerve to the brain
and sound is perceived. The cochlea’s
main job therefore is to transform
mechanical sound waves into electrical
neurological impulses.
The Basics
According to Rose, a cochlear implant
is an electronic medical device that
does the work of the damaged cochlea
and enable sound signals to the brain.
“The first patients were implanted
in 1978, by Professor Graeme Clark
from the University of Melbourne,
Australia,” he says and today, more
than 250.000 patients have received
this established, effective and long-term
solution by the company “Cochlear”
whose vision is to connect the
hearing impaired to a world of sound
by offering life-enhancing hearing
solutions.
Indications
Cochlear implants can help patients,
from infants to adults, who have
moderate to profound hearing loss in
both ears or/and receive little or no
benefit from hearing aids, tells Rose.
“Cochlear Implants can be considered
for infants and adults and essentially
it becomes a worldwide standard to
implant children around 12 months of
age, assuming that there are no contra-
indications,” he says, however most
children will be implanted between
one to three years of age; however, even
children up to seven years of age is
still a good time to implant. And every
subsequent year later, will increase
the need for rehabilitation. Also the
expectations of an achievable outcome
should be discussed carefully with the
family and caregivers. However for
patients with a less significant degree
of hearing loss or patients that have no
hearing nerve, a Cochlear Implant is
not indicated, points out Mr. Rose.
How It works
Mr. Rose explains that a Cochlear
Implant System consists of an
implantable device that is under
the skin and an external part that is
placed on the ear. “The external sound
processor, worn behind the ear just like
a hearing aid which captures sounds
and converts them into digital code,”
he explains and this transmits the
digitally coded sound through a coil
to the implant that is placed under
the skin. The implant then converts
the digitally coded sound to electrical
impulses and sends them along an
electrode array, which is positioned in
the cochlea. “The implant’s electrodes
stimulate the cochlea’s hearing nerve
fibres, which relay the sound signals
to the brain to produce hearing
sensations,” says Mr. Rose who adds
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Apr/May 2014