A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing. The implant consists of an external portion that sits behind the ear and a second portion that is surgically placed under the skin. An implant includes:
A microphone, which picks up sound from the environment.
A speech processor, which selects and arranges sounds picked up by the microphone.
A transmitter and receiver/stimulator, which receive signals from the speech processor and convert them into electric impulses.
An electrode array (22), which is a group of electrodes that collects the impulses from the stimulator and sends them to the 8th auditory nerve.
How does a cochlear implant work?
A cochlear implant receives sound from the outside environment, processes it, and sends small electric currents near the auditory nerve. These electric currents activate the nerve, which then sends a signal to the brain. The brain learns to recognize this signal and the person experiences this as “hearing”.
The cochlear implant somewhat simulates natural hearing, where sound creates an electric current that stimulates the auditory nerve. However, the result is not the same as normal hearing.
Caring for CI Equipment
Because each recipient (CI wearer) should wear their CI daily, setting up a daily routine will help them to maintain a high quality of hearing and life.
A good morning routine would be putting on glasses (if used), dentures (if used), and finally the CI. Recipients may be able to do this on their own, but it may be nice to help and ensure that the CI is turned on and has enough battery power.
Ensure that each recipient is wearing their CI during all waking hours. This is especially important for toddlers and those with dementia who might be prone to removing their processor and resist wearing it.
Check your battery pack and/or batteries to ensure they are working.
In the evening, make sure that the CI is switched off and safely stored in a designated storage place so that it can be easily found the next morning.
In addition to this daily care, routine checkups can make sure that each recipient’s device is properly functioning, so that they are able to use it to the best of their abilities.