Hearing aids are a boon to millions of Americans with hearing loss. But as well as they perform, they do have their limitations. They won’t work for all types of hearing loss, and some people find them too uncomfortable to wear.
For some individuals, implantable hearing devices might be the key to improved communication.
Types of Implantable Hearing Devices
Implantable hearing devices are surgically implanted instruments designed to improve the transmission of sound vibrations by directly stimulating the auditory nerve or cochlea. There are several different types of implantable hearing devices; the most popular include cochlear implants and bone anchored hearing aids.
Cochlear implants are devices that are implanted surgically behind the ear. They contain an external portion consisting of a microphone, sound processor and transmitter, and an internal portion that includes a receiver and a group of electrodes.
The microphone picks up sounds in the environment, which are then converted by the sound processor into electronic signals that are sent to the transmitter. The transmitter forwards these signals to the receiver, where they are then passed on to the electrodes. The electrodes stimulate the auditory nerve, which carries the information directly to the brain, where it is interpreted as sound.
Cochlear implants allow those who are severe to profoundly deaf to understand speech and other sounds.
Bone Anchored Hearing Devices
Bone anchored hearing devices consist of a titanium implant, an external abutment and a sound processor. Like cochlear implants, this system bypasses damage in the auditory canal and middle ear, transmitting sound vibrations through the external abutment to the titanium implant, which then stimulates the inner ear of the better hearing ear and naturally integrates or ossifies with the skull bone over time.
The bones of the skull act as conductors, transmitting these sound vibrations to the inner ear, where the nerve fibers responsible for hearing are stimulated. A bone anchored hearing device is especially useful for patients with conductive or mixed hearing loss and single-sided deafness.
Call The ENT Center of Central Georgia at (478) 743-8953 for more information or to schedule an appointment.