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Cochlear Implant 101

Posted Dec 02 2008 3:06am

Cochlear Implant 101

Just thought I would talk about the components of the CI (cochlear implant) and how it works.

After I ran into two people who thought that once I had the internal implant in, I was going to automatically start hearing "normally." It's not like a pair of prescription glasses-presto-your vision is corrected. The internal implant alone does not work by itself. It needs the external components of the CI, too-the processor and the magnet in order to work. And I still needed to be activated and get a map at the time. (A map is a personal, individualized programming of the CI. Like fingerprints and snowflakes, no two are the same, even for bilateral implantees. Everyone has their own comfort level of what they can hear and it is adjusted to fit that threshold.)

I copied this from the Cochlear Freedom literature I got from the audiologist.

Each caption in the above graphic talks about the implant: MRI safe, up to 1.5 Tesla with the magnet removed, built with titanium and platium (tested by the US Military), has 22 electrodes, and a soft tip to minimize force during surgery thus it could preserve residual hearing.

The picture below gives you an idea of the internal implant's size.

Internal implant

The picture below is what the Advanced Bionics processor looks like

This is the Advanced Bionics internal implant

This is what the magnet, coil, and processor look like. (This is the Cochlear Freedom, the one I have.) The second picture gives you an idea of what it looks like when someone is wearing it.

Cochlear Freedom (external components on the ear)

In the above picture, numbers 1 and 2 are described1) BTE (behind the ear) speech processor

2) cable and coil

Cochlear Freedom

1) Sound Processor - external component that converts sounds into digital signals
2) Digital signals are sent to the internal implant
3) Electrode array - internal implant converts digital signals into electrical energy, sending it to an elctrode array inside the cochlea
4) Hearing nerve - Electrodes stimulate hearing nerve, bypassing damaged hair cells, and the brain perceives signals as sound.

(You can click the above link "Cochlear Freedom" for a diagram of how normal hearing works.)
Other links that describe "How a CI Works"
Advanced Bionics, LLC-How a CI Works

How a CI Works

(I borrowed the two links above from fellow blogger, with permission. She saved me some research. Winks.)

Here is a good link that describes all three brands of cochlear implants (Cochlear, Advanced Bionics, and Med El).

Hope this helps. :)


(Some pictures above are copied from Google Images and if you click on the pictures, you will find the source of the graphic.)

posted by Shari @ 3:48 PM  

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