Most people in Goodyear with hearing loss will find hearing aids a great solution. While they are the gold standard of treatment for about 90 percent of hearing-impaired individuals, in some cases hearing aids alone are not enough.
Hearing aids work by boosting sounds so those with hearing loss are able to hear better. But in some individuals, the nerve cells are so damaged amplification isn’t enough to overcome the loss. These patients might find benefit from cochlear implants.
Cochlear implants are surgically implanted devices that bypass damaged nerves and instead transmit electrical signals directly to the brain, which interprets them as sound. Cochlear implant candidates are generally individuals with advanced language and communication skills who have developed hearing loss later in life, or very young children – most often six and under – whose speech and language skills are still developing.
Cochlear implants consist of two parts: an external portion that contains a microphone, speech processor and transmitter, and an internal portion made up of a receiver and electrode array. The external part is worn behind the ear and the internal part is surgically implanted in the ear. The microphone sends external sounds to the speech processor, where they are converted to digital impulses. The transmitter forwards these electronic signals to the receiver and they are passed on to the brain, where they are interpreted as sound.
Cochlear implant users don’t “hear” the same way that those with hearing aids do, but they learn to decode sounds differently in order to make sense of them. They are a great alternative for those whose auditory nerve is too damaged to benefit from hearing aids.
Bone Anchored Hearing Devices
Bone anchored hearing devices are surgically implanted devices that bypass damaged portions of the middle ear to deliver sound directly to the inner ear. They rely on the natural conductive ability of bone to transmit sound.
These devices are comprised of three parts: a titanium implant, an external abutment and a sound processor. Over time, the titanium implant fuses with the bone behind the ear, a process called osseointegration. Once this occurs – usually within a few months – the device can be programmed to fit your hearing needs.
They works by transmitting sound vibrations through the implant to the skull and inner ear via bone. There, the nerve fibers responsible for hearing are stimulated. The system is most effective for Goodyear patients with hearing loss that affects the outer or middle ear and those who experience single-sided deafness. Those with frequent ear infections and narrow or deformed ear canals may also benefit.
Not everybody is a candidate for cochlear implants and bone anchored hearing devices. Your Goodyear audiologist will determine whether either alternative will work for your type and degree of hearing loss.