Imagine a childhood without music, nursery rhymes or hearing the comforting voice of your mother. For those that are profoundly deaf, there was a time when sound was not a part of their lives. Thanks to the miracle of technology, cochlear implants (CIs) let many children (and adults) hear for the first time.
Cochlear implants are electrical devices that produce hearing sensations in the inner ear, though they do not restore hearing. A receiver is placed on the outside of the head to transmit sound signals directly to the implant, which in turn stimulates the auditory nerve, sending sounds straight to the brain. They are used to treat some children with profound hearing loss who do not benefit from traditional hearing aids. The implants are surgically implanted in the part of the inner ear called the cochlea, at a cost of around $30,000 including evaluation, surgery, the device, and rehabilitation (for possible sources of funding, click here).
The procedure, which is irreversible and somewhat risky, is normally considered only after hearing aids have failed. That's because the child's damaged cochlea -- the nautilus shell-shaped part of the inner ear that normally directs sound energy to the auditory nerve -- is destroyed in the implantation process, eliminating the possibility of returning to hearing aids if the procedure isn't a success.
For those parents with a child with a profound hearing loss, cochlear implants can be a God send. In these pages we will provide an overview of cochlear implants and steer you to places where you can get more information.
Help Kids Hear is a site dedicated to helping parents of deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) children. We are parents of hard of hearing kids and simply want to "give back" to the community. We welcome your comments, questions & suggestions. Please drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.