A cochlear implant (CI) is a surgically implanted electronic device that is recommended only for persons who are profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing, especially in both ears. Babies who are born deaf benefit most from this device.
Individuals with sensori-neural hearing loss benefit from a CI. A CI relays electrical signals directly to the cochlea, which is the main component of the inner ear through minor-cables that connect with the apparatus which converts these signals to nerve impulses.
This device is different from a BAHA (discussed below). While both devices bypass the external and middle ear and directly connect to the inner ear, BAHA finally links to a bone which stimulates the cochlea. A CI goes one step further and connects directly with the cochlea.
Candidates for a cochlear implant are carefully screened and selected. Both babies and adults can qualify but the patient needs a strong support system at home. This is because the implant does not exactly restore hearing. It helps the individual perceive sounds once again and, post-surgery with extensive aural rehabilitation, an audiologist helps the patient re-learn to recognise sounds. This means the patient’s family must be supportive and cooperative and participate in the process.
We also offer a range of implantable hearing devices, which are recommended for patients who do not benefit from a conventional hearing aid but are still not candidates for a cochlear implant.
These hearing devices are implanted by our experienced ENT surgeons and include the Bone Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA), Vibrant Sound Bridge, the ESTEEM, envoy and MAXUM.
A Bone Anchored Hearing Aid or BAHA is implanted in the skull behind the ear. It is used to assist hearing in people with conductive hearing loss, that is, in individuals whose bones of the middle ear cannot properly conduct sound waves. This device is recommended for people with severe conductive hearing loss.
Unlike external hearing aids, which magnify sound waves and then transmit them to the middle ear, BAHA completely bypasses the external auditory canal and middle ear and transmits sound waves directly to the cochlea or inner ear. It does this by making the sound waves vibrate against the mastoid bone at the base of the skull.
This implantable device is used in people who cannot wear conventional hearing aids. This includes chronic inflammation or infection of the ear canal, which prevents the insertion of a hearing aid. Also, people who have malformed ear canals cannot accommodate ear moulds.
Besides these individuals, people who suffer from bilateral canal atresia also qualify for BAHA.