Hearing impairment or the disability of being deaf is very common today. Most people with this disability rely on cochlear implants to help them with their hearing. According to (www.webmd.com), a cochlear implant is a small device that a doctor puts in your ear through surgery. It sends compulsions directly to your auditory nerve, which carries sound signals to your brain. However, the device doesn't make you hear normally again, but it can help you with sounds. Near all people with acute to extreme hearing loss can understand speech in person or over the phone better than they did with a hearing aid. It can usually help you know sounds around you, including telephones, doorbells, and alarms. Many people also can pick up on speech in noisy places better than they did with hearing aids, or even enjoy music again (www.webmd.com).
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Unlike hearing aids, which enhances the sound. Cochlear implants bypass the damaged part of the ear and stimulate the hearing nerve directly. It can help the person understand speech. According to (www.cochlear.com), in a recent study, people with cochlear implants could understand sentences eight times better than they could previously with their hearing aids. In addition to knowing the purpose of cochlear implants. How do cochlear implants work to stimulate the brain? To further understand the stimulation of the cochlear implant to the brain; we must first understand the process of normal hearing.
The ear has three components, which are the inner, middle, and outer ear. The inner ear consists of the cochlea which transforms sound signals that are sent to the brain. It also has the auditory tube, oval window, and semicircular ducts. According to (www.earq.com), the auditory tube drains fluid from the middle ear into the throat behind the nose. Next is the oval window, which connects the middle ear with the inner ear. Lastly, are the semicircular ducts, it is filled with fluid; attached to cochlea and nerves; send information on balance and head position to the brain (www.earq.com).
In addition to the inner ear, there is the middle ear. The middle ear is responsible for turning sound waves into vibrations that are sent to the inner ear. As mention on (www.earq.com) the middle ear consists of the eardrum, cavity, and the ossicle. The eardrum is a thin flap of skin that is stretched tight like a drum and vibrates when sound hits it (www.kidshealth.org). The cavity or tympanic cavity of the middle ear is an air chamber; it contains a chain of movable bones that transmit the vibrations of the tympanic membrane across the cavity to the middle ear. Shaped like a narrow box, its axis has an oblique medial and caudal orientation. It is lodged in the middle region of the petrous part of the temporal bone (sciencedirect.com). Lastly is the ossicle, which is a chain of small bones in the middle ear that transmit sound from the outer ear to the inner ear through mechanical vibration (www.verywellhealth.com).
Lastly is the outer ear, which collects sound. The outer ear includes auricle, auditory canal, and the eardrum outer layer. The auricle collects sound, and like a funnel, amplifies the sound and directs it to the auditory canal (en.wikipedia.org). The auditory canal transmits sound from the pinna to the eardrum (www.hear-it.org). The eardrum layer collects sound. The cochlear implant stimulates the brain by sending signals transferred from the auditory nerve and then is sent to the brain. According to (www.medlineplus.gov), a cochlear implant tries to replace the function of the inner ear by turning sound into electrical energy. This energy can then be used to stimulate the cochlear nerve (the nerve for hearing), sending "sound" signals to the brain. Sound is picked up by a microphone worn near the ear.
People that wants the cochlear implants must have surgery, which takes about 4 hours and the patient undergoes anesthesia. The cost of the implant ranges between $30,000-$50,000, that’s without insurance. However, most insurance companies cover some of the cost leaving the patient paying a percentage of the cost, depending on the type of insurance the patient has. Even though this device is costly, it is the route most people are taking because it makes communication easier and the patient doesn’t have to use visual aids as much. There is a silent difference in cochlear implants and regular hearing. With regular hearing the patient has all the components it needs for the ear and its main parts (inner, middle, and outer) to correlate with one another, with those implications it stimulates the brain. With impaired hearing the three main components of the ear are not congruent with one another. The cochlear implant is a device that can be altered by the doctor. It replaces the damaged cochlea of the ear to stimulate or to correspond with the other components of the ear.
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In summary, cochlear implants are very important to our community as it has been the best source used in helping those with ear impairments communicate efficiently. According to (www.nidcd.nih.gov) about 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears. More than 90 percent of deaf children are born to hearing parents. Approximately 15% of American adults (37.5 million) aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing. In knowing those numbers, we can almost guess the great affect the use of cochlear implants has had our community.
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