The cochlear implant is a state-of-the-art electronic device that stimulates the cochlea and translates acoustic signals into electrical signals by stimulating the auditory nerve. The brain is responsible for interpreting and giving meaning to the sound.
Cochlear implants consist of:
- A microphone to capture sounds and transform them into electrical signals.
- A sound processor that encodes the electrical signals and is accompanied by a battery.
- A transmission system that communicates the processor with the implanted components.
- A stimulating receiving antenna attached to a series of electrodes distributed along a long, flexible electrode-carrying guide, which the surgeon inserts into the cochlea.
When do I need a cochlear implant?
It is indicated for those who suffer from bilateral profound sensorineural hearing loss, in some cases also severe, and who have not obtained benefits with conventional hearing aids.
In children, they are considered candidates when they present a hypoacusis of 90dB and in adults from 80dB with a discrimination of less than 40% in the speech audiometry or verbal audiometry.
It is not indicated in cases of congenital malformations, bilateral agenesis of the auditory nerve, people with severe mental illnesses or who have diseases that contraindicate any type of surgery.
Benefits of cochlear implants
Not all implanted patients obtain the same benefit, it depends on the age at which the CI was placed, the hearing performance before implantation. In the case of children who have had hearing aids with a high benefit of their hearing remains, they will have a greater benefit.
In the case of children older than 6 years of age without auditory stimulation, it will take a long time to benefit since the critical period of language acquisition has been lost. On the contrary, in children younger than 2 years old, their performance will be very good, always taking into account the auditory age for the evocation of the first words and not the chronological age.
In the case of post-lingually hearing impaired adults, the result will be quite immediate and with a good understanding of spoken language from the year of implantation.
Rehabilitation after cochlear implant implantation
After the intervention, the patient should wait one month for activation. He/she will have to wait until the area has healed before placing the external parts.
Then, a programming program (usually at the implantation center) and rehabilitation (at the implantation center or a qualified external professional) should be carried out.
It is important to carry out rehabilitation to get the most out of the cochlear implant. It will consist of detecting sounds, identifying them and knowing what each one corresponds to, discriminating them, differentiating voices and understanding words, until understanding is achieved. This sometimes takes time, each person is different. It is very important to have family support and to put yourself in the hands of an experienced speech therapist to optimize the process.