28 September 2008

Getting an Implant, What's Involved?

The mechanical side goes something like this.
A Sound Processor is fitted like a hearing aid behind the ear. This captures sound and coverts it to a digital signal, like my hearing aids do.
The Processor then sends the digital signals to an internal implant which contains an electrode array.
The internal implant then stimulates the hearing nerve directly, via the electrodes, bypassing the natural eardrum and other structures in the outer ear and inner ear.

During the surgery a little coil is inserted into the cochlea [Wikipedia link]. It spirals around within the cochlea itself. It's very small! This coil carries the electrodes which stimulate the nerve.
During the same surgical session, the part which is mounted under the skin on the back of the head is also put in place. You see the outside part of that on the back of people's heads.
The operation takes about 2-3 hours, or 5 seconds if you're the recipient!

Why do it?

At this point in time, I have NO hearing. None. Tinnitus doesn't count, although I have PLENTY of that!
I can't speak to you one-to-one easily, you have to write me notes. I can't hear music, birds, surf, cats meowing. I can't hear that car that's about to run me over.
OK we can do text via the internet and I can have a phone call via the NRS [excellent service]. People have said it's a blessing in disguise - maybe it is for five minutes but I think it's potentially dangerous, both physically and mentally!
Anyway - that's why I'm doin' it.

Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre
Wikipedia, about [Cochlear Implants]
National Relay Service

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