What is a Cochlear Implant?

Cochlear implants are devices that can allow individuals with severe hearing loss to reintegrate with the hearing world. Unlike hearing aids, which merely amplify sounds, cochlear implants convert received sounds into a series of electrical impulses, which are delivered to the auditory nerve by placement of an electrode array within the the cochlea. An internal receiver-stimulator contains circuitry designed to convert the coded information received from the externally worn speech processor to electrical impulses and governs the activation of specific electrodes. The newest designs for the externally worn components of these devices combine a microphone and the speech processor technology into one unit that is comfortably worn at the ear level. A small connector cable links the ear level unit to a transmitter coil that interfaces with the internal receiver-stimulator and is held in place by a small magnet.

How a Cochlear Implant Works

  1. Sounds are picked up by the microphone.

  2. The signal is then "coded" (turned into a special pattern of electrical pulses).

  3. These pulses are sent to the coil and are then transmitted across the skin to the implant.

  4. The implant sends a pattern of electrical pulses to the electrodes in the cochlea.

  5. The auditory nerve picks up these electrical pulses and sends them to the brain. The brain recognizes these signals as sound.

The current technological sophistication of today's cochlear implant systems can restore hearing in adults to a functional level and provide young children with auditory stimulation that benefits them in developing, comprehending and producing spoken communication as well as recognizing and understanding sounds in their environment. These advantages have important implications especially for young children relative to communication acquisition, cognitive development, education, social well being, family relationships, daily life activities and in their future, vocational options.

We currently offer all cochlear implant devices manufactured by the three FDA approved makers: Cochlear Corporation, Med-El, and Advanced Bionics. 




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