Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cochlear Implants: Part 1

In the profession of Speech Pathology, one type of service provided is aural rehabilitation. Aural rehabilitation refers to helping people with hearing losses adjust to their loss and learn how to communicate using the resources available to them, whether that be using manual communication (sign language), using a hearing aid or cochlear implant, or using alternative augmentative communication devices, as were discussed in my last post.

The gadget that I will focus on now, is the cochlear implant. A cochlear implant is an electronic device that provides direct stimulation to the auditory nerve, which is responsible for sound perception. This is helpful to people who have hearing loss due to structural abnormalities, but does not help people whose hearing loss is due to deficits with the brain receiving the message. The device is implanted into the cochlea, which is a structure of the inner ear and is depicted here.

A cochlear implant has two basic components: the external component and the internal component. The external component (pictured here) consists of a microphone, a speech processor, and a transmitter. The internal component consists of a receiver, a stimulator, and the electrode array.

Cochlear implants are highly complex devices. Now that you have been introduced to the device itself, stay tuned to my next post, which will focus on how the device works.

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