This is my first blog, so I’d like to start by introducing myself. My name is Mitch Adair and I’m an independent audiologist. I recently started my own audiology practice in Lindfield, Sydney with the purpose of providing a high standard of care that is patient-centred and independent of corporate influences. One area of audiology I am especially passionate about is cochlear implants.
I was introduced to cochlear implant audiology 7 years ago when I inherited a number of cochlear implant clients from a colleague who was moving. Having worked a lot with hearing aids up until then, I had a slight presumption that working with cochlear implants would be similar to working with hearing aids, since both are designed to help people hear. However, besides a few technology features that exist within the external sound processor, a cochlear implant system has very little in common with a hearing aid. Here's how it works:
The normal cochlea has a system of up to 15,000 hair cells working together to reproduce sound in incredible detail. A cochlear implant is designed to essentially replace this system for people who have too few hair cells left to benefit from hearing aids, and this happens via electrical stimulation by between 12 and 22 electrode contacts inside the cochlea (depending on the manufacturer). As a result, a person with a cochlear implant experiences sound in a completely different way to someone with normal hearing or a hearing aid. Here's an example of what happens in an appointment when a cochlear implant is switched on and the recipient is just starting to learn how to hear again (courtesy of The Hearing House in New Zealand):
Working with cochlear implant recipients is extremely rewarding, not just because of the technology but also the ongoing therapeutic alliance that is formed between the client and the audiologist. Soon after my introduction to cochlear implant audiology, I applied for a job at Cochlear Limited. Over the next few years my job involved providing clinical support and training to some of the best cochlear implant audiologists in the country, and along the way I've learned a model of best practice that I am excited to be able to apply in my own clinic.
Stay tuned for an introduction to another passion of mine, Tinnitus Treatment. In the meantime, thanks for reading and Merry Christmas!