Cochlear and Bone Conduction hearing implants
Hearing implants are medical devices that require surgery by an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist. The internal implant works in conjunction with an externally-worn device, usually known as a sound processor. Broadly speaking, there are two types of hearing implants: cochlear implants and bone conduction hearing implants.
Hearing aids are usually required for people whose hearing has deteriorated due to a loss of hair cells within the cochlea, in which case the amplification from a hearing aid gives them access to softer sounds and speech they otherwise wouldn’t have heard. However, there comes a point where so many of these cells have been lost that a hearing aid can no longer help, no matter how loud it is or how good the technology is.
Cochlear implants are the standard of care in Australia for people with sensorineural hearing loss who receive limited benefit from hearing aids. They work in the following way:
A sound processor worn behind the ear or on the body, captures sound and turns it into digital code. The sound processor has a battery that powers the entire system.
The sound processor transmits the digitally-coded sound through the coil on the outside of your head to the implant.
The implant converts the digitally-coded sound into electrical impulses and sends them along the electrode array placed in the cochlea (the inner ear).
The implant's electrodes stimulate the cochlea's hearing nerve, which then sends the impulses to the brain where they are interpreted as sound.
BONE CONDUCTION HEARING IMPLANTS
In contrast to cochlear implants, bone conduction hearing implants are indicated for people with good cochlear function (either in the same ear as the implant or the opposite ear in the case of Single Sided Deafness/SSD), who are unable to use a hearing aid effectively due to outer or middle ear disease.
In a bone conduction hearing implant system, sound is delivered to the inner ear via vibration through the skull, instead of the normal hearing pathway. Here is an example of how one of the bone conduction hearing implant systems works:
The sound processor detects sounds and transforms it into vibrations.
The sound processor magnet transfers the vibrations from the sound processor through the skin to the implant magnet.
The implant magnet attracts the sound processor magnet and receives the vibration
The implant transfers sound vibrations to the inner ear.
COMPREHENSIVE IMPLANT SUPPORT
If you are considering a hearing implant or already have one, Lindfield Audiology is well equipped to support you at any stage of your journey.
Our audiologist worked for several years for the leading hearing implant manufacturer before starting his practice. He has had training with all hearing implant manufacturers available in Australia and would be happy to answer any questions you may have.