Hearing loss is a condition that should not be treated lightly, especially regarding hearing loss in children. So much of our daily world revolves our ability to hear, to understand, and to connect with others. New advances in hearing technology have helped those who are living with hearing loss connect with the rest of the world, and the future holds even more possibilities, especially concerning cochlear implants.
Deciding to accept a cochlear implant is a big one with pros and cons that must be weighed seriously. Easier to use alternatives such as hearing aids and assistive listening devices are always the first choices before cochlear implants are considered. But for many, cochlear implants are the only option to restore some degree of hearing because of the specific type of hearing loss the individual has.
Cochlear Implant Drawbacks
Until now, a degree of uncertainty about the degree or type of hearing that would be restored in a patient has always been present. No one has been able to accurately predict how environmental sound from background noise to speech sounds will be perceived with a cochlear implant since each person’s hearing loss profile is highly unique.
Also of concern is the fluctuating cost of cochlear implants that can range from somewhat affordable to very expensive. While many insurances cover cochlear implants, not all do.
Given these uncertainties, individuals with hearing loss that may be improved with cochlear implants still must undergo a surgical procedure to have one implanted. And, like any surgery, it has its risks.
But the good news is on the horizon thanks to researchers from the University of Sydney, Australia. This research team of scientists and engineers have created a computer model that can successfully predict a patient’s auditory reaction to a cochlear implant.
Using the information extracted from these computer models, scientists can make adaptations and changes to an implant so that it is customized to the exact needs of the patient. This removes a significant degree of uncertainty cochlear implant nominees have had about how successful or comfortable a cochlear implant will be in improving the specific aspects of hearing, such as speech sounds, that are so important to communicate with the rest of the world.
This breakthrough has significant implications for the future of cochlear implants. We may start seeing a rise in the number of cochlear implant surgeries if hearing health specialists can match up a tailor-made implant with the right patient.
More successful implants can help those living with significant hearing loss better adapt to a world that relies so much on hearing. While it’s not a complete solution to hearing loss, and it is by no means a solution for everyone, cochlear implants can significantly improve the right candidates quality of life, ability to connect with others, success in school, and success in the workplace.
More research is needed in this area, but the breakthroughs this research team has made will undoubtedly lead to even more promising solutions in the future.