Cochlear Implants – Effective Management for Severe to Profound Hearing Loss
Although the history of cochlear implants is a surprisingly lengthy one, it is also one characterised by repeated early failures and abandoned initiatives. The possibility of a device that, rather than augmenting the functions of the ear, might actually be able to replace some of them, has tantalised researchers since long before the advanced technologies that have since made this possible became available. It is well over a century since a physician first applied electrodes to a patient’s auditory nerve and was informed that the latter experienced a clicking sound when he did so. His results triggered a heightened interest in the physiology of hearing.
However, the first surgical placement of a cochlear implant only took place in 1957 and although the subject regained some hearing, the apparatus failed within a month and subsequent research was focussed more on reliability than on effectiveness, and a further 2 decades passed before a device that displayed both of these properties was made possible, a period of the intensive human trials from which the knowledge needed to create today’s sophisticated models was eventually to emerge.
Of course, in addition to a greater understanding of the ear’s anatomy and physiology, the many technological advances that have been achieved during the last four decades have made an even greater contribution, without which today’s advanced cochlear implants would not have been possible. Both a pioneer and an industry leader in this field, Phonak has been responsible for many of the innovations that have seen these devices achieve the reliability and effectiveness that are enabling many of those who were previously hampered by severe to profound hearing loss to manage their condition and to grant them a brand new lease on life. For their outstanding performance, these implantable devices that now carry the Absolute Bionics brand and other advanced products from Phonak have become the preferred choice at Ear Institute centres throughout the country.
Unfortunately, not all patients will benefit from cochlear implants and so, given the need to undergo surgery and the expenses involved, each candidate must be thoroughly evaluated before proceeding. Once it has been established that the use of conventional hearing aids offers no significant improvement, the evaluation process ensures that candidates meet those criteria that favour a sufficiently successful outcome. Both adults and children can be suitable candidates for implantation and are especially beneficial to the latter, whose education and development is so dependent upon the ability to hear.
In young subjects who have never mastered speech due to their deafness, additional rehabilitation will be required to ensure that they benefit fully from their cochlear implants. Given the complexity of the overall process from evaluation through to the surgery and, eventually, to the rehabilitation stage, the need for a team of specialists is paramount. Ear Institute is one of the few healthcare organisations in South Africa that can claim to maintain such a team. Made up of ENT surgeons, audiologists, speech therapists and technical experts, our dedicated team is able to deliver all of the support needed to ensure that each implant patient will receive all the professional care that he or she needs at every stage of the procedure.
Our team at The Ear Institute, plus Phonak technology, equals the ideal combination for cochlear implants.