Benefits of cochlear implants for the deaf include the fact that they can help to restore a person’s hearing to some extent. By doing so, those who receive implants may be able to recognize speech and to learn to properly pronounce and sound out words. Those who had severe hearing loss but were not fully deaf may experience some restoration in their hearing function, although it will not be the same as before.
A cochlear implant is an electronic device which acts as a substitute for the auditory nerve. The implants send electric impulses to allow the ears to pick up sounds and help to decipher pronunciation and speech patterns. Cochlear implants for the deaf may allow them to hear all or parts of some sounds, although hearing is not as it would be naturally. They artificially provide a representation of sounds, allowing patients to understand what is being said.
The use of cochlear implants for the deaf benefits all age ranges. Children are often given implants because they allow them to learn speech, interact with other kids, and learn other critical skills more easily than they would without them. With therapy, children can learn to recognize speech without the use of sign language or they can use their new hearing in combination with sign language.
Older adults who have lost their hearing later in life can also benefit from implants. They may have already learned speech and other skills, so the implants allow them to recognize sounds and use skills they remember. The use in cochlear implants for the deaf may be used in patients as young as one year of age and as old as the very elderly, assuming that a patient is in good enough health to undergo the procedure.
Not all deaf patients are eligible for a cochlear implant. For instance, those whose hearing loss only includes certain frequencies may not benefit. Others may not be able to withstand a surgical operation safely. Infants are also not eligible until the age of 12 months.
Newer technologies are being developed which may allow the use of cochlear implants for the deaf to reach more patients with a wider range of conditions. Whether or not a patient is a good candidate will be up to the patient and his doctor to determine. Additional therapy and treatment is required after the surgery so that patients can learn to use the sense of sound using the implant.