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Cochlear Implants – Boon or Bane

Hearing is a complex sense that is tantamount to the development of a child's cognitive, linguistic, and social traits. However, there are people in our society who have hearing impairment.Approximately 28 million Americans have a hearing impairment, while 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children born in the United States are deaf National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders [NIDCD], 2008). Some lose their hearing due to ear infections, aging, or genetic abnormalities. Fortunately, scientific advancement has led to the invention of cochlear implants. Fifty-nine thousand people have received cochlear implants worldwide. In the United States, about 13,000 adults and nearly 10,000 have received cochlear implants (NIDCD, 2008). The invention of this device was hailed as a positive advancement in medical technology. Cochlear implants are used as a "cure" to sensorineural hearing loss by bypassing the outer ear through electrical stimulation of the auditory nerve (Sparrow, 2005). In cases of profound or severe hearing loss, there are not enough functioning hair cells in the cochlea to stimulate the ear from externally received speech information; therefore, a traditional cochlear implant may replace the function of nearly all of the inner hair cells across the frequency range (Turner, Reiss, and Gantz, 2007). Recent improvements in surgical techniques have progressed to minimally invasive cochlear implant technique. Incision sites have become smaller, resulting to faster healing, less risk for infection, and minimized blood loss even for neonates (Robertson, 2007). Externally received sounds are transmitted to the implanted internal receiver, where signals are converted to electrical impulses to stimulate the auditory nerve.
Numerous studies have supported the benefits of a cochlear implant. Recently, the age qualification for cochlear implants was decreased from 24 months to 12 months of age (Goller, 2006). …

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