The Bionic Man

Cochlear Implants

The Bionic Man

The Bionic Man

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?

Cochlear Implant Illustrated

Cochlear Implant Illustrated

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…

13 thoughts on “Cochlear Implants

  1. Anonymous

    I am there with you three. I love how you are handling this. Fiona is one very special princess to have you for parents. I think God chose you for a reason. I’d love to meet you one day Mark, you are very special if you caught Eliza’s heart!

  2. John isham

    Wasn’t it the bionic woman that had the bionic ear, not the bionic man? Seems more apropos…

    1. Mark Isham Post author

      Heh i knew you were one of the few who would pick that up John. I actually did consider the Bionic Woman, but liked the stock picture of the 6 million dollar man better ;-). I still remember watching that show with you as a kid, crazy.

  3. Anonymous

    Mark, you are amazing. I knew you were a “smart” kid but this blog is amazing and awesome. You must have spent your sleepless nights researching and writing. Fiona has great parents and she will be a smart and great kid just like them. AF

    1. Mark Isham Post author

      Thanks Aunt Flo, but really I just have 1000 monkeys pounding it out and choose the best parts 🙂

  4. Amie Amacher

    My daughter attended Atlanta speech school, as she is has mild dyslexia, and among other things, they have an elementary school for kinds with learning disabilities. When we were given a tour of the facility, we toured the infant area for children and their families who were hearing impaired. I feel confident you have already been made aware of Atl. Speech school, but if not, it is an amazing resource for Fiona.

  5. isntthatspatial

    While science has indeed come a long way with cochlear implants, I feel like I need to play devil’s advocate here. Having been involved in the Deaf community for some time now, most Deaf people have a very strong opinion about whether or not babies should be implanted. I’m definitely not here to tell you which is the “better” option, because you know your daughter better than anyone. My only advice is that before you make the decision, you explore EVERY option for you child, including those without the cochlear. I strongly encourage you to watch the documentary “The Sound and Fury”, it’s incredibly educational. Here’s the link to the full documentary on YouTube!

    1. Mark Isham Post author

      We will definitely check out this video, thanks! We’re still learning our bearings and are definitely open to different viewpoints.

      1. isntthatspatial

        That’s wonderful to hear! And as her parents its obvious you love your daughter very much, and in the end no matter what happens she will always have her family to support her. That makes all the difference!

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  7. Eliza

    Thank you Amie! We definitely want to check out Atlanta Speech School in the future. (to look at all options).

    isntthatspatial, that was a great video. It gives much insight on both communities and shows how important our final decision will be.

    Aunt Barbara, I love you!!

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