"He is there not only when we cry out from the burden of sin but also when we cry out for any other reason." -Bruce D. Porter

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What is a Cochlear Implant?

Ok, so after much therapy and research, we've decided to go ahead and get a Cochlear Implant done on Seth's right ear.  When I first read about Cochelar Implants (I will refer to Cochlear Implant as CI from here out), I wasn't sure about it.  First of all, they say you will lose any natural hearing that the ear had once the CI is implanted.  This scared me a little.  I wanted Seth to have as much natural hearing as possible.  But after almost a year of auditory verbal therapy, it has become evident that Seth cannot hear enough to hear speech sounds, and therefore may never be able to learn to talk clearly because he cannot hear what sounds he's trying to make.  Imagine trying to form a sound with your mouth when you cannot even hear it.  Even if the CI fails, meaning it gives him no benefit, what has he really missed out on?  I've read that CI's sound different than normal hearing.  This is also concerning, but since Seth doesn't hear anyways, what's he missing out on?  I'm looking at this from a hearing person's point of view when I should be looking at it from a deaf person's point of view.  That really changes the way you think.  A friend of mine whose daughter is getting a CI, also has another daughter who is paralyzed from the waist down.  We'd discussed the pros and cons of a CI and what we should do for our children. Then she told me that if there was a surgery that gave any hope for her paralyzed daughter to walk again, she would do it.  So that was why should was going ahead with a CI for her deaf daughter.  That made me think.  I love watching deaf people sign, and I think it's a great world out there in the deaf community.    I met another lady who chose to not to do anything for her deaf daughter (hearing aids, CI, etc).  Her opinion was, why try to fix her, she's not broken.  Of course this makes me think as well.  After much thought and prayer, we've made this decision.

So, what is a cochlear implant?

Deep in your ear is a remarkable pea-sized structure called the cochlea. The cochlea is fully developed at birth. Tiny, delicate hair cells in the cochlea communicate sound signals to your brain, allowing you to hear different pitches and sounds. If these delicate cells are damaged, you can lose some or all of your ability to hear.
Cochlear implants are designed to compensate for the damaged cells, helping to restore your ability to perceive and understand sounds. A cochlear implant works by bypassing the damaged part of the ear and sending sound signals directly to the hearing nerve.

1. The external sound processor captures sounds, then filters and processes the sounds.
2. The sound processor translates the filtered sounds into digital information, which is then transmitted to the internal implant.
3. The internal implant converts the digital information into electrical signals, and sends them to a tiny, delicate curl of electrodes that sits gently inside the cochlea.
4. The electrical signals from the electrodes stimulate the hearing nerve, bypassing the damaged cells that cause hearing loss, allowing the brain to perceive sound.
(Info taken from www.cochlearamerica.com)

Seth will be getting the Nucleus 5.  Now our biggest dilema, what color?  The outside wires and processor come in five colors: black, white, beige, brown, and charcoal.   I think we'll get the wiring in brown and the processor in beige.  
This is what will be outside his head or what you see.  The processor is worn behind the ear, just like a hearing aid.  The wire (coil) attaches to the head by a magnet! 
This is what will be underneath his scalp and muscle.  See the magnet in the circle where the outside coil will attach?
And this is what it will look like. 


Marcy said...

I have a niece with a cochlear implant, and she is doing really well. She signs and talks too. I can give you my sister in law's email if you'd like to get in touch with her. Where will the surgery be done? My niece's was done at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.

Watson & Co. said...

That is gonna interesting to see how it all goes. I didn't realize how much of it worn on the outside. It does come off to bathe right?

Christina said...

Yes, Tonnia, it comes off for a bath or swimming or sleeping.

Marcy, a lot of people I know have had their cochlear implants done at Johns Hopkins. We will be having ours done at Bethesda Naval Hospital.