Did you know that in addition to working with people who have difficulty communicating, speech-language pathologists also work closely with people who have hearing loss? Because hearing is such a large part of communication, hearing impairment can cause a range of communicative difficulties, from speech and language delays in children to difficulties socializing and problems with academic or professional performance. One way that speech-language pathologists help people with hearing impairment is by working with individuals who have received a cochlear implant.
What exactly is a cochlear implant? It is a device that can 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. Rather than just making sounds louder, a cochlear implant does the work of damaged parts of the ear. It bypasses the inner ear, and uses electrical signals to stimulate the auditory nerve directly, allowing the person to perceive the sensation of sound.
The sounds a person hears through a cochlear implant are distorted, which can make adjusting to the device and learning to communicate with it a challenge. Because of this, a person who receives a cochlear implant with usually work with a speech-language pathologist to help improve speech production and overall communication. 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.
Do you or someone you love have a cochlear implant? What were some of the biggest challenges you experienced? Share your story in the comments section below!
If you have any questions or would like to know more about speech-language therapy, give me a call at (212) 308-7725 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to chat and answer any questions you may have.
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