What is a Cochlear Implant?

There are many different technologies used to help individuals with hearing loss. One such device is the cochlear implant.

Cochlear implants may be used when a person has sensorineural hearing loss. This means that the inner ear is damaged, but the middle ear (which conducts the actual vibrations of sound) and the auditory nerve (which transmits auditory messages to the brain) are both intact. The cochlear implant bypasses the inner ear, and uses electrical signals to stimulate the auditory nerve directly, allowing the person to perceive the sensation of sound.

Because the sounds transmitted by the cochlear implant are distorted, the patient will typically undergo intensive therapy with a speech-language pathologist to improve speech production. As auditory pathways in the brain are activated, the speech-language pathologist will help the patient to identify and interpret the sounds that they are experiencing, and help them to use these to better communicate. The amount and type of therapy depends on several factors: how old the individual was at the time the device was implanted, whether speech and language skills had been acquired prior to the surgery, and for how long they have had the device. With the help of speech-language therapy, the cochlear implant can open up a whole new world of speech and communication for the hearing impaired individual.

Have you had experience communicating with a cochlear implant? Share your story in the comments section!

 If you or a loved one are experiencing a communication disorder, contact Speech Associates of New York today to find a professional speech-language pathologist who can help you communicate to your fullest. Remember, early intervention is the key to maintaining and developing strong communication skills.

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