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Cochlear Implant Manufacturer Facing Multi-Million Dollar Fine

Posted Aug 24 2008 3:59pm 1 Comment
As a quick search on this blog for the word deaf shows, I am a pretty vocal advocate of Deaf rights, and quite anti-cochlear implant for d/Deaf children. Because of the nature of the procedure, and its permanence, I do believe it's a choice that an autonomous agent should consent to rather than have pushed onto them. And this article from the LA Times just adds to that belief : the FDA wants to fine cochlear implant manufacturer Advanced Bionics $2.2 million for apparent manufacturing violations that actually put patients at risk for additional hearing loss, electrical shocks, and other issues. (Frankly, those two are enough, as far as I'm concerned.)

As for my other objections, they are relatively simple from a technological standpoint. Unless technology has rapidly changed in the last few years, one of the major drawbacks of cochlear implants is that they do destroy any residual hearing. This is why many doctors suggest only implanting one ear, in case a better technological or biological solution comes along later down the line. So you are wedded to the device implants, and that technological level, for the remainder of your life.

Stop and think about this for a minute. Go dig around in your junk drawer and take a look at your cell phone from three or four years ago. Or better yet, go find a computer from the 1980s.

How would you like to have that technology (in all it's now unsupported glory) embedded as a part of you that you are reliant upon for the remainder of your life, regardless of whether or not people continue to support that level of technology?

From a purely technological, I spent too long in the software industry, standpoint (and leaving out all notions of Deaf culture), it's simply a bad idea.

This Advanced Bionics lawsuit is just another in a long list of reasons cochlear implantation is a decision that should be made only by competent adult agents.

-Kelly Hills
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However, by the time a child becomes a competent adult agent he/she would have lost many years of improtant auditory information. Once there the clock cannot be turned back. To note your argument about computers from the 1980's. The question is did those in the 1980's stop using computers because they felt better ones would be availible in 2011? The truth is the advances in computers since the 1980's have only come about because people used the technology availible then and contributed to its advance. As an individual in the software industry you will appreciate advances do evolve and in some way or form older technology is brought forward in steps where cross compatibility is an expected feature of the advances. Children should be provided with the best possible start in life for their development and parents need to make the right decision for the child at that particular point in time. Once past those years do not come back.

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