Wow. Simply Wow. I had no idea. I feel like I’ve been living under a rock.
Cochlear (“koe-klee-er”) implants sound truly amazing. Here’s the wikipedia page, but my oversimplification is this: an electronic device is inserted into the skull to connect directly to the auditory nerves that transmit sound to the brain. This device, coupled with an external microphone, can transmit the sensation of sound to the brain, completely bypassing the nonfunctional aspects of a deaf ear. Freakin amazing, and best of all…it’s also called a BIONIC EAR. How freakin’ awesome is that?
My words do not do this justice though, so check out this 1 minute video.
Cochlear implants have been around for 20+ years now. Of course I’m an old fart – when I was a kid in the 70s/80s, they were not so common. I blame that and my lack of friends with hearing loss over the years for my lack of a clue here.
So now I temper my excitement with the caveats. This not a “cure” for deafness, the sounds produced are nowhere near as detailed as what a healthy ear can process. This video shows examples of what voice and music sound like through an implant. It’s both depressing and inspirational to me, depends on my mood. It’s fantastic that sound is now possible where only silence was before, but its depressing that the sound quality is still very low.
Still though, there’s hope:
- In many cases this is GOOD ENOUGH to participate without assistance in society
- The technology will ONLY GET BETTER in the years to come, quite possibly reaching parity by the time Fiona is a teenager! (and why stop there – let’s rev up the super powers now!)
To me the key is moving on this fast before Fiona’s language patterns start developing. Implants can now be done as young as 1 year old, well within the early learning plasticity stage, and we will definitely be hopping on that day one!
We’d love to hear more from people who have had experience with cochlear implants. Hundreds of thousands of implants have been done in the last 20 years, with the implant age getting younger and younger over time. From the videos we’ve watched, the earlier the better so one year old could be fantastic.
Of course, right now we just don’t know. Still so much to learn…