The sense of hearing is a blessing that helps us communicate with others and makes it possible for us to explore the world of sounds. Compromised or impaired hearing can deteriorate a person’s overall quality of life and present several challenges. Patients suffering from hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids and cochlear implant. Let’s find out more about them.
What is Cochlear Implant?
A cochlear implant is an electronic device that stimulates the cochlear nerve electrically. The implant has two parts:
This part sits at the back of the ear and has a microphone installed in it. It picks up sounds from the outside and sends electrical signals to the internal components of the ear.
The internal component of the cochlear implant is placed under the skin of the ear with surgery. It processes the signal received via a microphone and converts it to an electrical impulse that stimulates the cochlear nerve. The internal part has small wires and electrodes that are used to transmit these electric impulses. The cochlear nerve sends the signal to the brain where it is processed to produce hearing sensations.
Cochlear Implant Vs Hearing Aids
While cochlear implants and hearing aids serve the same fundamental purpose their mechanisms and applications are different. Hearing aids only amplify the sound so that people with hearing impairment can listen with a little more clarity. Cochlear implants, on the other hand, bypass the natural mechanism of the auditory system and stimulate the nerves artificially.
Patients who experience mild to moderate hearing impairment can be cured via hearing aids. But those that have profound hearing loss need cochlear implants to mitigate the condition. People that get a hearing aid take about two weeks to adapt to it. However, people that undergo cochlear implant surgeries need auditory therapies to get used to it.
Hearing Therapy After Receiving Cochlear Implants
Cochlear implants bypass the natural mechanism of the auditory system and use a new one that is alien to our bodies. To understand the new experience, patients need aural rehab also known as auditory therapy. The therapy helps the patient understand:
- Differences between sounds and words
- New words that the patients have not heard before
- Speech of other people
- Function of implants
- Effects of the implant on the patient’s bodies
- Effects of the implant on people around the patients
- In addition, it also improves the speaking skills of patients and helps them with listening to music.
Self-Guided Hearing Therapy
Hearing therapies are carried out by qualified and trained professionals at specialized facilities. For those who don’t have access to such facilities, experts have devised some exercises that implant recipients can practice to learn quickly. These include:
Side-by-Side tracking is an excellent exercise for patients that have newly received an implant. It involves two persons: the recipient of the implant and another one to read a particular text. Each individual has a copy of the same text. While the other person reads the text patients listen to it and read the text on their copy. It helps them understand how a particular word is spoken and what type of hearing sensation it produces in the ear.
Patients can start from easy texts and make their way to difficult ones as they make progress. While practicing this exercise it is important that the speaker sits on the side of the implanted ear. Cochlear implants can process the sound in regular volume. Hence, there is no need to raise the voice. The exercise should be carried out in a quiet area and the speaker must speak articulately.
Listening to Audio Books
Listening to audiobooks is an alternative exercise of side-by-side tracking that does not involve other people. Patients can download the audio and the text of the same book and listen to it. The exercise helps the brain in developing a connection between heard and written words. Patients can make the exercise difficult by removing the visual help and focusing only on the auditory input. Patients can also add background music to make the exercise even more challenging.
Tips For Cochlear Implant Recipients
Recipients of cochlear implants can experience several challenges in communication. The following tips can help in coping with them:
- When a word or sound causes confusion, ask the speaker to repeat it. Ignoring them will only build ambiguities that can produce difficulties in communication.
- Request the people to speak articulately so you can understand exactly what is being said.
- Provide feedback to the people while speaking to them. It lets them know that you have understood their message.
- Getting the hearing sense restored can be an overwhelming experience. Your brain is not used to this experience which is why you may feel tired after doing the exercises. It gets better but it is important to take breaks between the exercises.
- Do not pretend that you understand what has been communicated to you. Always ask the speakers to repeat when you don’t understand something.
- Implants can bring back the sense of hearing but they have certain limitations. Patients would not be able to hear in a loud and noisy environment. It is best to avoid such situations.
Bottom Line – Speech and Hearing Therapy
Cochlear implants are life-changing devices that can improve the quality of a patient’s life significantly. Transparent Hands provides cochlear implant surgeries to deserving patients free of cost. As a non-profit organization, we need your supoort donations. Donate now to restore a child’s sense of hearing.