Hearing implantology is a set of surgical techniques aided by devices aimed at the functional rehabilitation of a patient affected by total or partial deafness. Hearing implants are not a replacement for an ear, but they can help many people who were effectively declared deaf. By stimulating the auditory nerve, signals are transmitted to the brain, which turns into ‘hearing’. Implants are key for many children or infants born with severe hearing loss who receive the devices so that they can grow up with auditory skills and have stronger language skills.
Cochlear Implant (CI)
A cochlear implant (CI) is a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing. Cochlear implants are often called bionic ears. Cochlear implants may help provide hearing in patients that are deaf because of damage to sensory hair cells in their cochleas. In those patients, the implants often can enable sufficient hearing for better understanding of speech. Newer devices and processing-strategies allow recipients to hear better in noise, enjoy music, and even use their implant processors while swimming.
Auditory Brain stem implants (ABI)
An auditory brainstem implant (ABI) is a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf, due to sensorineural hearing impairment (due to illness or injury damaging the cochlea or auditory nerve, and so precluding the use of a cochlear implant). The auditory brain stem implant uses similar technology as the cochlear implant, but instead of electrical stimulation being used to stimulate the cochlea, it is used to stimulate the brain stem of the recipient.
Active Middle Ear Implants (AMEI)
Active Middle ear implants are surgically implanted hearing aids, which are placed within the middle ear, and are suggested as a therapy for certain patients with conductive, sensorineural or mixed hearing loss for whom alternative treatments (e.g. conventional hearing aids, bone anchored hearing aids etc.) are unsuitable. Active Middle ear implants can be fully implantable or semi-implantable and work via electromagnetic or piezoelectric transducers.
Bone Anchored Hearing Aids (BAHA)
A bone-anchored hearing aid is a type of hearing aid based on bone conduction. It is primarily suited to people who have conductive hearing losses, unilateral hearing loss and people with mixed hearing losses who cannot otherwise wear ‘in the ear’ or ‘behind the ear’ hearing aids. A patient without external/middle ear function is one example where a BAHA could be useful where a conventional hearing aid with a mould in the ear canal opening is not possible to use. As the inner ear is normal, sound conducted via the skull bone could give normal/near normal hearing.