What Are The Different Types of Cochlear Implants?
It’s been estimated that 15 million people could benefit from a cochlear implant globally. However, cochlear implants are just one form of hearing implant.
Today we’ll discuss what a hearing implant is, the different types of hearing implants, and what a cochlear implant is.
What is a Hearing Implant?
To start things off, we need to become familiar with hearing implants.
Hearing implants are compact devices that are surgically implanted into the ear to provide a range of benefits for someone dealing with moderate to severe hearing loss.
One in six Australians suffers from hearing loss, so it’s great to know that some things can help them continue enjoying their lives.
Types of hearing implants
There is a range of different hearing implants to choose from, including
Cochlear implants are used to turn sound vibrations into electrical signals that travel along the auditory nerve. The brain then receives these signals and translates them into recognisable sounds.
In middle ear implants, the implant itself converts external sounds (signals) into vibrations. The vibrations are picked up by the small bones in the middle ear and passed to the cochlea.
Bone conduction devices, such as BAHA and Bonebridge implants, convert external sounds into mechanical vibrations that are sent to the inner ear through the bone. This device sends sounds through the bone, meaning it bypasses the outer and middle ear.
Auditory brainstem implants are surgically implanted in the brainstem. This method is only used when severe nerve damage occurs, meaning the cochlea can’t send information to the brain.
What Are Cochlear Implants?
A cochlear implant is a small device that helps people with moderate to severe hearing loss. Like most hearing implants, cochlear implants can’t restore normal hearing, but they can restore some hearing capabilities in those with severe to profound hearing loss.
How do cochlear implants work?
Cochlear implants work when an external speech processor captures sound from the surrounding environment and converts it into digital signals.
These signals are then passed on to an internal implant that has been inserted in the middle ear. In the middle ear, the signals are converted into electrical energy and sent to the cochlea, stimulating the hearing nerve while bypassing the damaged hair cells.
Cochlear implants vs hearing aids
- Unlike hearing aids, cochlear implants are surgically inserted under the skin behind the ear.
- While hearing aids magnify sounds, cochlear implants change how an individual receives sound.
- Hearing aids can be fitted by an Audiologist, while cochlear implants require surgery under general anaesthetic.
- Hearing aids can help those with all kinds of hearing loss, whereas cochlear implants were designed for those with moderate to severe hearing loss.
The Different Types of Cochlear Implants
Three different global manufacturers of cochlear implants supply the market in Australia, including Cochlear, Med-el and Advanced Bionics. And within the three cochlear implant manufacturers, there is a range of different brands and types of hearing aids.
However, your Audiologist can help you navigate these options and help you make an informed division based on
- Your medical conditions
- Clinical hearing test results
- Your dexterity
- Your occupation and lifestyle requirements
- As well as physiological, aesthetics, and monetary needs
You may be able to choose which brand and device you want, depending on whether you participate in a private or public Cochlear implant program. The latter may only have one brand available.
However, other factors will influence which brand to choose from a patient, surgical and audiological view. Although, your surgeon will always select the internal implant from whichever brand has been chosen.
With input from your implant Audiologist, you can make the final decision about which brand of external sound processor device you prefer.
To Sum It Up
There are three cochlear implant manufacturers who supply their implants to Australians with severe to profound hearing loss, all of which are made of excellent quality.
Your implant Audiologist and surgeon will discuss your options with you and help you choose the right implant for you.
You Audiologist can show you the different models available and discuss their features with you.
Ultimately, no matter which brand you choose, you can rest assured you’ll receive a quality product from a major brand approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
If you believe you’d benefit from a cochlear implant, get in touch with your Audiologist at your local Attune Hearing clinic. You can book an appointment online or call us on 1300 736 702.