How is cochlear implant technology changing to help the hearing of deaf people? The cochlear implant is a small device that can bring hearing to a person who is profoundly deaf or is hard of hearing. “A cochlear implant 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 provide sound signals to the brain.” (Cochlear) The cochlear implant was invented in 1961 by Dr. William F. House, but it was not successful until 1969. Over the years, technology changed to create the current cochlear implant. The current cochlear implant is a small hearing aid like device that consists of a microphone, speech processor, transmitter, receiver, and an electrode array. The cochlear implant works by passing through the damaged parts of the ear and stimulate sounds through the auditory nerve. Doctors are currently working on building a completely internal cochlear implant. The device would be a small and simple microphone implanted into the ear. “U.S. researchers are developing a tiny middle ear "microphone" that could remove the need for any external components on cochlear implants.” (Gizmag Team) This paper will talk about the results that were found researching about how cochlear implant technology has changed, and is changing, to create the past, present, and future version of the cochlear implant.
The results I found in my research on how cochlear implant technology has changed to help the hearing in deaf people were very good. The cochlear implant was created in 1961 when Dr. House started working on the device after he had heard about research being done about the auditory nerve. He wanted to create a device that would stimulate sound through the auditory nerve in deaf or hard of hearing patients. His first device was a large and complex device. It was very similar to the current versions of the cochlear implant, but much larger. The implantation was a small, paper thin magnet that had the receiver and an artificial nerve connected to it. This artificial nerve is what connected to the auditory nerve to stimulate sound. This implant was in between the skin and the skull right above the ear. A surgical process is required to insert the implant. People also had to relearn how to hear because they either had never heard anything before, their body was not used to the new device, or it had been so long since they heard something. “Use of a cochlear implant requires both a surgical procedure and significant therapy to learn or relearn the sense of hearing. Not everyone performs at the same level with this device. The decision to receive an implant should involve discussions with medical specialists, including an experienced cochlear-implant surgeon.”(NICID) The magnet connected the microphone and the transmitter to the head so it could receive sound to be stimulated through the artificial nerve that is connected to the auditory nerve. The microphone was connected to a long wire that ran down to small box that powered the cochlear implant. The cochlear implant was powered by a small battery that was rechargeable. Dr. House’s original design in 1961 was rejected by the first recipient’s body, but it later became successful for a long time in 1969. “Dr. House’s cochlear implant electronically translated sound into mechanical vibrations. His initial device, implanted in 1961, was eventually rejected by the body. But after refining its materials, he created a long-lasting version and implanted it in 1969.” (The New York Times) Three years later, Dr. House’s 3M single-electrode cochlear implant was the first to go on the market and it became popular in the years to come. “In 1972, a speech processor was developed to interface with the House 3M single-electrode implant and was the first to be commercially marketed. More than 1,000 of these devices were implanted between