For some patients, conventional hearing aids are no longer a suitable option, or no longer provide the best outcomes for their specific configuration of hearing loss. These patients can benefit from the use of implantable hearing technology.
Implant technology can help people who;
- Are unable to use convention hearing aids due to chronic conditions of the outer or middle ear
- Have severe conductive hearing losses
- Have moderate or worse sensorineural or mixed hearing losses
- Have single sided deafness
- Receive little or no benefit from conventional hearing aids
- Have poor speech discrimination scores with conventional hearing aids in
In most cases even severe to profound hearing losses can be successfully rehabilitated with conventional hearing aids. However, for some cases of significant hearing loss, conventional hearing aids no longer provide functional benefit for daily communication. In these cases, cochlea implants can help. Once a client has had a through diagnostic assessment and has trialed optimally fitted conventional hearing aids with little to no be, progress to cochlea implant assessment may be recommended.
How does a cochlea implant work?
Cochlea implants are recommended for people with sensorineural hearing losses caused by damaged or absent inner ear (cochlea) hair cells. A cochlear implant works by using electrical impulses to activate the nerves of the inner ear directly, and bypass the hair cells that do not work as they should. An electrode is surgically implanted into the inner ear or cochlea and interacts with a speech processor that is worn externally on or above the ear. The speech processor picks up environmental sound and converts it to an electrical signal which is passed on to the surgically implanted electrode. The electrode then stimulates the hearing nerve directly.
It is important to realise that, while cochlea implants are an amazing technology, they also require a lot of post-operative rehabilitation work and dedication. Your audiologist will work closely with you from switch-on with regular mapping and review sessions with at least annual check-ups once a stable map is achieved.
Bone Anchored Hearing Aids (BAHA):
Problems with the outer or middle ear can attenuate sound and stop it passing effectively into the inner ear (e.g.: chronic infection, post-surgical abnormalities, structural abnormalities). In these cases if the inner ear is working but there is an issue in the outer or middle ear, the patient is said to have a conductive hearing loss may be helped with the use of a BAHA.
How does a BAHA work?
A BAHA system uses the body’s natural ability to transfer sound to the inner ear via vibrations of the skull. While a conventional hearing aid increases incoming sound coming through the damaged area (outer/middle ear), a BAHA sends sound directly to your inner ear through sound vibrations of your skull.
The external sound processor captures sounds in the environment and turns them into vibrations and sends them via an abutment or magnetic connection to an implant in the mastoid bone (behind the ear). The implant then transmits the vibrations through the bone directly to your inner ear.