Imagine hearing music for the first time or the voice of a loved one, the very first time. Though most of us take hearing for granted, there are some that are thrilled to hear at all. A sub population of deaf people, including some that were born deaf, are able to hear with the use of a cochlear implant.
A cochlear implant is utilized by those who are severely hard of hearing or profoundly deaf. Differing from a hearing aid, an implant does not merely amplify sound, it directly stimulates the auditory nerve. This direct stimulation can allow a deaf person the capacity to detect sounds and understand speech; abilities allowing them to detect warning signals, hear environmental sounds, and allowing speech to be understood over the phone.
The cause of hearing loss can be onset at birth due to genetic or prenatal issues, or it may come about later in life due to diseases such as meningitis or a head injury. For those who lost their hearing later in life after developing normal speech; the initial sounds heard often differ from their auditory memory, but after a few months they reported that sounds became more natural.
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, more than 219,000 people worldwide have received cochlear implants.
The benefit of this implant are greatest the younger a child is, and the shorter the duration is between becoming deaf and receiving an implant.
For children, the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reported “eligible children who receive a cochlear implant before 18 months of age develop language skills at a rate comparable to children with normal hearing, and many succeed in mainstream classrooms.”
The ability to pick up on speech patterns and auditory learning at an earlier age sets them up for continual success.
While causes for hearing loss vary, and patients for a cochlear implant vary, the result of the procedure can be life-changing! See the video below for joyous initial reactions to hearing for the first time.
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