As you get older, hearing loss is a major cause for concern because of its impact on your personal relationships and quality of life. Your concern is understandable considering that significant hearing loss can cause the loss of the ability to speak, which can be discouraging, frustrating and isolating especially when you have enjoyed a healthy social life before the hearing loss.
Fortunately, there is hope for individuals who are at high risk for or who have suffered from hearing loss – the cochlear implant. This is an electronic device designed to bypass the non-working parts of your inner ear by converting acoustic sounds from your environment into electrical pulses, which then provide direct stimulation to your auditory nerves. Your auditory nerves then carry the signal to your brain, which then recognizes it as sound.
Researchers used 12 years of data from the John Hopkins School of Medicine regarding cochlear implants in senior adults (60 years old and up). Their data consisted of speech outcomes at the outset as well as post-implant results after one year in 83 patients.
The results of the study showed the following:
• The cochlear implants consistently improved the subjects’ speech understanding scores; 60% average increase on hearing tests was found.
• The patients with higher pre-implant scores also gained higher post-implant speech scores specifically 10 percentage points in comparison with patients who had lower pre-implant scores.
In layman’s terms, if you have been implanted with cochlear implants at a younger age and you scored higher on the pre-implantation speech scores, you are more likely to get higher post-implant speech understanding scores. Your severe hearing loss make it difficult to understand speech in everyday listening situations but with the cochlear implant, you will be able to surmount most of your hearing-related challenges including speech.
Ask your doctor about your suitability for a cochlear implant and start your journey into the hearing world again.