Modern Science Marvels: Cochlear Implants

Modern Science Marvels: Cochlear Implants

Despite the amount of negativity directed toward healthcare on any given day and the dismal state people with disabilities sometimes find themselves in, there are plenty of diamonds in the rough that both evoke our compassion and remind us of all the wonderful progress that has been made in the scientific community – especially over the last 5 to 10 years. One of such extraordinary inventions is the cochlear implant.

Cochlear implants are little gadgets inserted into the ears of people who are deaf or hard of hearing. The device is surgically inserted into the ear and can be adjusted as needed. There have been many success stories for people who have always been deaf or hard of hearing, people hard of hearing after an accident, or people who have suffered hearing loss later in life.

As far as prevalence, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders says this:

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as of December 2010, approximately 219,000 people worldwide have received implants. In the United States, roughly 42,600 adults and 28,400 children have received them.

Like the “coming home” videos of military members, the videos of deaf people hearing for the first time are heartwarming in every sense of the word. This video, for example, features a young mother, deaf since birth, now hearing the voices of her husband and son for the first time thanks to cochlear implants. If you’re like us, you’ll probably tear up a little bit (and head to YouTube and watch more – they’re addicting).

It’s really something to see someone’s life change in a matter of seconds. But, it’s important to remember that although hearing can happen in an instant, people with new implants do have to get used to interpreting sound and adapting to their new sense, especially if they have always been deaf, and it can be quite overwhelming for them. Some still have to rely on lip-reading for quite some time despite being able to hear.¬†Although it is about vision and not hearing, the movie At First Sight has a pretty good portrayal of this adjustment process.

We can only hope these impressive achievements continue and can be offered to both low-income people and those in less-developed countries. If you’re looking for a way to help and/or want to want to give a genuine gift that keeps on giving, we’ve heard Charity Choice is a good avenue to explore. Further, they work with a number of charities, including ones that are disability-related.