What Is A Cochlear Implant?

Figure A

A cochlear implant is a type of hearing aid that turns sound into electrical signals rather than amplifying sound like a conventional hearing aid.  It provides a sensation of hearing by directly stimulating the auditory nerve using the electrical signals, bypassing the inner part of the ear (hair cells of the cochlea) which no longer work.  It has internal and external parts (see figure A).  The internal part is surgically implanted.



Figure A: A Cochlear Implant System (courtesy of MED-EL at www.medel.com)


It is appropriate for those with severe to profound deafness because it is difficult for hearing aids to make sound audible and speech intelligible for this degree of hearing loss.