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Cochlear implants are small electronic devices that allow people to hear sounds. A cochlear implant is different from a hearing aid.

Cochlear implant (CI) is currently the only medical treatment available to partially restore hearing to patients with profound-to-severe hearing loss. CI is fundamentally distinct from hearing aid (HA) use, as implants are surgically placed under the skin behind the ear where they bypass the normal sound-conducting mechanism, convert sound signals into electrical stimulation, and directly stimulate the residual auditory nerves.

In recent years, CI has evolved into one of the most profound advances in modern medicine and provided hearing to more than 320,000 deaf patients. According to the time of onset, deafness is classified as prelingual and postlingual deafness, and the indications of cochlear implants vary slightly.

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Cochlear implants are small electronic devices that allow people to hear sounds. A cochlear implant is different from a hearing aid. Hearing aids make sounds louder but still rely on the ear’s natural hearing ability, so they don’t work well enough for people with very severe hearing loss. Cochlear implants bypass the part of the ear that doesn’t work, by using electrical current to stimulate the auditory nerve. They can help even when the ear has such severe hearing loss that a person can’t understand speech even with powerful hearing aids.

A cochlear implant electrically stimulates the cochlear nerve (nerve for hearing). It has two parts.

  • External processor:- This part sits behind the ear and contains a microphone to detect sound and a battery to power the system. It processes sound and transmits power and signals to the internal stimulator.
  • Internal processor:- This part is surgically implanted. It includes electronics, a magnet, and a set of electrodes. A surgeon implants the stimulator’s electronics and magnet behind the patient’s ear and then inserts the electrodes into the cochlea, which is part of the inner ear. After the system is first turned on a few weeks after surgery, the magnet helps hold the external processor in place, and the electrodes send signals to the auditory nerve. The brain can learn to understand those signals as sound.

A cochlear implant helps give a person a sense of sound. It doesn't restore hearing to normal. However, it can help a person understand speech and noises in the environment.

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