This specialized procedure offers real hope for those suffering from deafness or profound hearing loss. Since 2007, Avera McKennan has offered cochlear implants, performed by Dr. Kenneth Scott of Midwest Ear, Nose & Throat , PC. During the procedure, an electrode is placed in the cochlea to stimulate the auditory nerve. A receiver sends sound signals through tiny wires to the inner ear (cochlea), which then sends signals via the auditory nerve to the brain, which interprets the sounds. Patients need to invest time and training to learn how to interpret the signals from a cochlear implant. A tiny external processor fits behind the ear, as a hearing aid does.
How much people can benefit from cochlear implants depends on how much auditory input they’ve had previously. Adults who have been totally deaf since childhood will benefit less than those who lose their hearing over time. However, children can be helped if the implant is done before the time that critical speech development takes place. That’s why hearing tests during infancy are critical.
- Patients often experience these enhanced hearing abilities:
- Understanding speech without the need for visual cues
- Recognizing sounds of the everyday environment
- Detecting soft sounds
- Locating the source of sounds