Sunday, February 5, 2012

All About Madison's New Ears

Many of you have been asking us how Madison's implant will allow her to hear.  Here is a brief overview of how the cochlear implant device works.  Madison received an implant in both her right and left ears.  After much research, Brian and I decided that the Advanced Bionics system is the best choice for our family.  For more information, feel free to view their website:

A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf.  Cochlear implants can restore hearing in patients suffering deafness due to loss of sensory hair cells in their cochlea.  They can often restore sufficient hearing to allow understanding of speech in a quiet background, but the restored, electrical hearing is much less rich than natural hearing, and offers only very limited appreciation of musical melody, or speech understanding in noisy environments.

How Hearing with a Cochlear Implant System Works:

A cochlear implant system consists of two main components.  The external component, which consists of a sound processor (one worn on outer ear and the other worn discreetly on body) and a magnetic headpiece (worn on the head).  Madison will have two different types of processors:

Harmony Headpiece & Processor  - worn on the ear

Neptune Headpiece & Processor - worn elsewhere

The internal component is the actual implant, which delivers sound to the hearing nerve.

This diagram below illustrates how a cochlear implant will bypass the "damaged part" of the ear:

- Sound is captured by a microphone on the sound processor.
- The sound processor converts the captured sound into detailed digital information.
- The magnetic headpiece transmits the digital signals to the internal implant under the skin.
- The implant turns the received digital information into electrical information that travels down the electrode array to the auditory nerve.
- The auditory nerve sends impulses to the brain, where they are interpreted as sound.

Just 4 more days until Madison's new ears are turned on for the very first time! We have been looking forward to this day for quite some time.  Stay tuned for a video documenting the moment Madison first hears sound. 

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