Episode 10: Cochlear Implants


What is a COCHLEAR implant?

Hello and welcome to Hearing TV.  My name is Merren Davies.

In the last episode we discussed Middle Ear hearing implants.

Today we are going to INTRODUCE the COCHLEAR IMPLANT.

The cochlear implant could be described as the ULTIMATE SOLUTION for people who cannot benefit from a conventional hearing aid.

To understand how the COCHLEAR IMPLANT works we need to remind ourselves of how normal hearing works:

Sounds around us reaches our ears by a relay of air molecule vibrations. These vibrations reach our eardrum, which transmit the VIBRATION of sound through to the INNER EAR via the interconnection of the 3 smallest bones in the body, which CONNECT the EARDRUM to the INNER EAR –  the COCHLEA.

The COCHLEA changes the mechanical Vibration into an Electrical signal, which is picked up by our Hearing Nerve and transmitted up to the BRAIN – where the true ‘HEARING” happens.

Most permanent hearing losses are due to a malfunction of the INNER EAR.  The COCHLEAR IMPLANT is designed to replace the function of the INNER EAR.

There are two parts to the COCHLEAR IMPLANT : an EXTERNAL and an INTERNAL part, which is why we often call it a “COCHLEAR IMPLANT SYSTEM” – as each part is needed for the system to work.

The EXTERNALLY worn part of the SYSTEM is called a SPEECH PROCESSOR.  It is the BRAINS of the cochlear implant.  It picks up the sounds of the world and determines what the INTERNAL PART should do.  It sends INSTRUCTIONS AND POWER to the INTERNAL part via
RADIO TRANSMISSION.  The INTERNAL part of the COCHLEAR IMPLANT is fully surgically implanted in the area behind the person’s external ear. And there is an electronic lead which runs from this space to inside the INNER EAR.

This ELECTRONIC LEAD then communicates to the person’s HEARING NERVE ….which transmits the signal up to the BRAIN – where ‘HEARING” happens.

We will discuss the COCHLEAR IMPLANT in more detail in the next episodes of HEARING TV.

So, STAY TUNED to Hearing TV to hear about more about implantable hearing devices.