Thursday, April 4, 2013

New type of "hearing aid" coming?

Hearing aids, even the most powerful one, have their limits.  Many people, myself included, find themselves either near or past these limits and in the domain of cochlear implants (CI).

Obviously CI are very expensive (some/most insurance will cover) and require hospitalization and surgery to implant.  Getting a CI also means that person can no longer have MRI scans performed unless the MRI machine is below a certain magnetic threshold or the magnet on the implant is surgically removed--though I am told the latter can be done outpatient.

Researchers are working with a prototype of a new type of "hearing aid" that is "implanted" in the ear drum, a very minor surgery that is done outpatient.  The implant can reach 120 dB, which is fairly amazing.  More details on this link:


5 comments:

meghan said...

getting a CI doesn't necessarily require extensive hospital stay. Surgery is generally 2ish hours, and is generally done on an outpatient basis. Patient would be in the hospital for a few hours, then be released when they're well enough. Not really at all that serious in my mind. As for the MRI, a person with a CI can still have an MRI done, they just have to have the magnet from the internal implant removed, get MRI done, then a new sterile magnet put back in. There are a few people who have CI's but also need to have MRIs done on a regular basis due to conditions they have, so they just don't have a magnet with their internal device. Please do a thorough research before misinforming people.

Aaron said...

Absolutely right about the MRI. I didn't realize they could remove the magnet with only local anesthesia.

My point of this article was not to badmouth CI. I was merely excited about a new product that may soon fill the gap between hearing aids and CI. My speech discrimination is like 25% in my right ear, and my thresholds range around 90-105 dB so this product could be perfect for me.

On the flip side, for those interested in the risks of CI, the FDA posts them all free from marketing spin of CI companies (who of course want you to think there are no risks):

http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/ImplantsandProsthetics/CochlearImplants/ucm062843.htm

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