Cochlear Implants: Helping People with Hearing Loss for Better Lives

I always like to do ‘What If’ Analysis in every step or work of mine. This sometimes helps in giving me better perspectives or approaches which I could take. This may not have been possible, if I was just approaching a problem as-is.

Last week, I was listening to a story of a young kid who was born deaf and how everyone around him failed to realise that, he was actually having some problems in hearing. I just couldn’t imagine myself in that situation. What If, I couldn’t hear my son call me ‘Appa’. Well, for a minute, I was moved. I just couldn’t think about the stuff which might be running through that kid’s mind. Thankfully, I later got to know that, he had a Cochlear™ Implant and can now hear everyone talk and of course he can converse better as well. Definitely brought in a smile.

Hearing loss is defined as being partially or completely unable to hear sounds in one or both ears. There are several possible causes for the same. Infections, birth defects, aging, head or ear Injuries, side-effects of some drugs and exposure to excessive noise.

In many countries, a majority of hospitals do not screen children for hearing ailments and that’s surprisingly bad. WHO Reports say, Up to 5 of every 1000 infants are born with or develop disabling hearing loss in early childhood. 32 million children live with disabling hearing loss. At least 60% of hearing loss is preventable. When this is not addressed, the consequences are pretty bad. It results in delayed language development, Social Isolation, and a higher risk of injuries. Fortunately, for these children, we now have Cochlear Implants which can help them lead a very normal life, just like most of us do.

Now what’s a Cochlear Implant? – This is an electronic medical device that replaces the function of the damaged inner ear. Unlike hearing aids, which make sounds louder, cochlear implants bypass the damaged hair cells of the inner ear (cochlea) to transmit sound signals to the brain. The cochlear implant technology can help people who have moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears.

This video will help you understand how an Implant works –

As illustrated in the video, a sound processor worn behind the ear or on the body captures sound and turns it into digital code. The sound processor has a battery that powers the entire system. The sound processor transmits the digitally-coded sound through the coil on the outside of your head to the implant. The cochlear implant converts the digitally-coded sound into electrical impulses and sends them along the electrode array placed in the cochlea (the inner ear). The implant’s electrodes stimulate the cochlea’s hearing nerve, which then sends the impulses to the brain where they are interpreted as sound.

If you have someone at your home or know of a relative/friend who needs it, please head over here for more information. I hope we spread better awareness and people who need it, get the same.

I also wish the style statement changes. Few years ago, when someone wore a pair of spectacles, people used to surprisingly look at them. This doesn’t happen now. I hope and I sincerely do, that people stop noticing and make statements of someone wearing a hearing aid. Let everyone listen to the wonderful music of life, like they are meant to.

Brett Lee, the Global Hearing Ambassador for Cochlear™ says,

“Hearing loss is a huge global public health issue. I can’t imagine cricket without sound – on the field not hearing the appeals and the crowd, off the field not hearing team mates, or at home not hearing my family. I can’t imagine it. A Cochlear™ implant can change all of that. I’ve seen it happen. The implant takes a person from silence to sound. It is a wonderful, life changing moment. And through the language of cricket, a game with three billion fans across the world, we can expose more people to implantable hearing technologies. We can help more people go from silence to sound.”

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