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International Cochlear Implant Day February 25

International Cochlear Implant Day February 25 International Cochlear Implant Day February 25

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Cochlear implantation is a relatively new technology that has revolutionized the world of profound hearing impairment because it allows people to perceive sounds and understand speech who could not do so naturally. The first implant was performed in France in 1957, but the technology did not reach Spain until 1985, and it was not until 1990 that a public center, the University Hospital of Salamanca, was authorized to carry out this operation. In these years, implants have undergone a great evolution, which has allowed the creation of smaller, more comfortable and more efficient sound processors.

Unlike a hearing aid, which is an external device that amplifies sound, useful for people with mild and moderate hearing loss, cochlear implants are indicated for people with severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss. The reason is that if the ear damage is too severe, amplifying the sound with a traditional hearing aid does not solve the problem. In so-called sensorineural hearing losses, the hair cells in the inner ear are too damaged or insufficient to provide proper hearing. Cochlear implants work like a transducer, transforming sound into electrical signals to the auditory nerve, bypassing damaged cells. The auditory nerve sends the signals generated by the implant to the brain, and the brain recognizes them as sound.

Cutting edge technology

Cochlear implants are high-tech devices that consist of two parts. The external part, which is visible, consists of a sound processor, cable, microphone and antenna, and the internal part is a receiver that is surgically placed under the skin, in the temporal bone. The two parts, external and internal, are brought into contact through a magnet.

Currently, it is estimated that there are more than 20,000 implanted people in Spain, according to data from the Federation of Cochlear Implant Associations (AICE), of which 60 percent are adults and 40 percent are children.

A multidisciplinary team of specialists has to assess each case individually and, after carrying out a series of tests, determine whether or not the person with bilateral severe-profound hearing loss (in both ears) is a candidate for an implant. It is indicated both for people with congenital hearing loss and for those who have lost their hearing suddenly or progressively. In children with hearing loss, especially those who have not yet learned to speak, the implant is recommended between 12 and 18 months of age, since hearing plays a very important role in language development. For adults, there is no upper age limit for a cochlear implant.

Also suitable candidates for a cochlear implant are adults who have previously used a hearing aid and are therefore able to speak and have an auditory memory.

Recovery from surgery takes three to five weeks, after which the implant is attached to the outside of the device and calibrated using an individualized program. At this time you can start the hearing re-education process.

Implant results

Hearing through a cochlear implant is different from hearing with natural hearing, and learning can take time. Results vary depending on the age at which the hearing was lost and the time between the hearing loss and the cochlear implant. In children, the best results are obtained with implantation at an early age.

It takes time and rehabilitation to learn to interpret the signals received from a cochlear implant. Rehabilitation is estimated to last between six months and a year. After one year of use, most people with cochlear implants achieve significant results in understanding speech.

The final results depend on the patient decade, but in general, hearing sensation is recovered, different sounds are distinguished, the most common ones are identified, control of one's own voice improves, and conversations are easier to understand.


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