If your child suffers from severe to profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss, they may be a candidate for a cochlear implant, also known as a bionic ear. This assistive technology differs from hearing aids in that it utilizes a two-part system, which requires a surgical implant into the cochlea as well as an external component. However, implants can be a significant help in letting your child hear, speak, and develop language. At Pediatric ENT Associates in Birmingham, our group of experienced doctors specializes in providing the most advanced care for children requiring bionic ears.
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What is a Cochlear Implant?
To begin with, cochlear implants are not hearing aids. Hearing aids amplify sounds so that children or adults with partial hearing loss are able to hear sounds better. These implants do not amplify sound; rather, they translate sound into signals that can be interpreted by the auditory nerve and the brain in order to understand sounds and speech. It is unlike regular hearing, but can be beneficial for children so that they are able to develop language and speech. Older children may benefit from this technology as well, as they will be able to connect the signals from the implant with remembered sounds.
The implants consist of two parts. A sophisticated electronic device is implanted into the cochlea, which can turn outside sound into signals recognized by the auditory nerve. These signals are transmitted to the device by means of an external microphone and speech processor unit. Working together, these components can simulate hearing for your child.
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What Does the Cochlear Implant Process Entail?
Having this kind of sophisticated technology implanted is not a decision to be entered into lightly. A thorough evaluation by a Birmingham pediatric ENT, audiologist, and speech therapist may be needed, and follow-up visits are required for at least one year following the surgery. Speech and audio therapy will be needed once a week, as the child will need to practice listening and speaking. Having a cochlear implant procedure done is a very big step that will require time and dedication.
That said, such cutting-edge implants can be a huge benefit for profoundly deaf children. This advanced assistive technology can help very young children to develop speech and language abilities almost on par with their fully hearing peers. Cochlear implants can also restore the gift of sound and speech to older children who have lost their hearing. It is important to weigh the pros and cons and have a thorough discussion with a doctor well versed in the process such as Dr. Audie Woolley before making a decision.
Schedule an Appointment for a Cochlear Implant Consultation
If you feel that your child may benefit from a bionic ear, please contact Pediatric ENT Associates at (205) 831-0101. World-renowned pediatric ENT specialist Dr. Audie Woolley heads the cochlear implant program in Birmingham Alabama, and will take the time to evaluate your child and explain everything that the process involves. We look forward to assisting you and your child.
Next, read about Congenital Ear Abnormalities.