Cochlear implants can prove to be very beneficial to many individuals, especially when there are issues regarding auditory nerves. Whereas hearing aids help to amplify sound and give people assistance with hearing, Cochlear implants provide the user with a sense of sound.
It is not designed to cure hearing loss, but it can provide those with difficulty hearing perceive sensation similar to sounds. The Cochlear implant sends these sensations of sound past the inner ear where injury has occurred.
Individuals who qualify to receive a Cochlear implant must have it surgically implanted, but those who are eligible must meet certain qualifications. These qualifications are different for children and adults, and they are as follows.
Cochlear implant eligibility for children:
- Must suffer from significant hearing loss in not one, but both ears
- Must be shown that hearing aids do not help the child
- Must be healthy and free from medical conditions that would make surgery difficult or impossible
- Must be able to understand how to use the Cochlear implant
- Must undergo educational understanding of the implant
Cochlear implant eligibility for adults:
- Must suffer from complete or severe loss of hearing in both hears
- Must be shown that they’re not receiving aid from hearing aids
- Must not suffer from any potential medical issues that would compromise surgery
- Must have a desire to communicate through speech, sound, and speechreading
It’s important to understand the ways that Cochlear implants work, and the potential issues involved with the devices.
How Do Cochlear Implants Work?
There are two sections of a Cochlear implant—one that operates externally from the body, and the other works internally after being surgically implanted. A strong magnet holds the two pieces together properly.
The external portion of the implant has three main components, including a microphone, a transmitter, and a speech processor. Both the speech processor and microphone sit inside a small part of the implant and are used to transmit acoustic sound from the microphone to the speech processor to the transmitter. From there, it goes to the internal implant through the magnetic implants.
The internal part of the implant is where the receiver is. It is implanted just below the temporal bone and helps to collect signals from the transmitter. The electrodes in the implant stimulate the auditory nerve directly and the brain interprets the signals to sound.
The Long Process of Getting the Cochlear Implant
When someone qualifies for the Cochlear implant, they undergo testing for audiological and psychological reasons, as well as going through imaging and a full medical exam. Once approved for the implant, the individual goes through the process which can include the following:
- Surgery: Once approved, the surgery is performed to put the implant on the individual. Most surgeries are done with general anesthesia and they roughly take two to four hours for the procedure and are released the following day. The internal piece is ready to go, but the surgical openings must heal before the external piece can be placed.
- Fitting: After a few weeks, the external device can be fitted on the individual and the Cochlear implant will be activated. The audiologist will also start the process of mapping the processor to meet your needs. Once turned on, the user can expect to start hearing sounds.
- Fine-Tuning: The user will have an opportunity to try the Cochlear implant and see if there are any problems they may be experiencing. The fine-tuning will involve various adjustments to help the individual understand how the implant works and what to expect.
Initial Risks of Having Cochlear Implant Surgery
Like with any surgery, having the Cochlear implant device surgically implanted comes with some initial risk, including injury to your facial nerve, numbness, dizziness, tinnitus, infection, and sensory problems. While the initial risks seem to be pretty serious, there are other problems that have been associated with having the Cochlear implant.
Unfortunately, many units have completely failed, putting users in a difficult position. Unfortunately, a failed device means that the user will have to have surgery to remove the implant, testing to determine if the device had in fact failed, and then potentially have to undergo revision surgery to right the wrongs.
Cochlear initiated a recall in 2011 detailing that the device “may shut down and cease to function. There were other problems found such as microcracks forming and the implant allowing moisture to penetrate the device after the brazing process.
Have You Been Injured By a Cochlear Implant?
For those who have had their Cochlear implant fail on them and have to undergo revision surgery because of the defect, there may be legal action available to help compensate for the harm and loss you may have experienced. It’s important to speak with a lawyer who understands what your rights are and can help you protect them every step of the way. You can count on our firm to guide you through the process from start to finish with your rights in mind.
At Shoop | A Professional Law Corporation, we stand determined to help victims of defective Cochlear implants get the compensation they deserve. We aim to help protect your rights from the manufacturer’s large insurance company. Our Cochlear attorneys are committed to holding negligence accountable and when your rights are at risk, you can count on us to put your needs first. We handle more Cochlear implant claims than many firms out there and it shows in our representation.