Imagine being born hard of hearing, only to grow older and lose your hearing further. Living without hearing the sounds life has to offer can be difficult, adjusting to hearing loss even more so. It can be a life-crippling situation and a big adjustment to make for patients.
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Solutions such as hearing aids are old technology, and anyone who uses one will tell you how difficult it is to manage the struggles that come from earmolds and tubes to feedback noise, etc. while being careful about keeping the hearing aids in proper working order, safe and dry.
Thanks to modern technology and Cochlear BAHA implants, this is no more the case. Patients across the world suffering from hearing loss can reclaim their lives with BAHA implants.
What Are Cochlear Implants?
Deaf patients or hard of hearing patients who haven’t seen successful treatment or significant improvement through conventional treatments or hearing aids will benefit greatly from cochlear BAHA implants.
Cochlear BAHA implants aren’t hearing aids. They’re in fact, vastly different. Hearing aids make sounds louder. On the other hand, Cochlear implants are installed through surgery. The purpose of BAHA implants is to send impulses directly to the auditory nerve. The nerve learns to send these impulses to the brain, helping the patient understand sound in a new way.
This is what sets apart Cochlear implants as a revolutionary new approach to hearing loss.
Cochlear implants are designed to create the ‘sensation’ of hearing by providing electrical stimulation to nerves in the cochlea, inside the ear. This enables patients with severe nerve deafness to ‘hear’ again.
The Cochlear BAHA implant consists of a few main components:
- An externally worn microphone, sound processor, and transmitter
- A surgically inserted receiver attached to an electrode system
A magnet connects the internal and external systems through the patient’s skull. Variations of this technology allow the external system to be carried in a pocket or harness, rather than having to hold in place near the internal system.
Who Needs Cochlear BAHA implants?
Patients who qualify for Cochlear BAHA implants are those who suffer from hearing loss due to damage or conditions of the middle and outer ear but have a functioning cochlea. These patients may suffer from hearing loss conditions such as:
- Defective growth of the ear canal or middle ear
- Chronic ear infection
- Chronic Otitis Media
- Congenital atresia
- Disease or dysfunction in the middle ear
- Sudden hearing loss conditions
- Acoustic neuroma
- Meniere’s disease
Patients who qualify for Cochlear implants aren’t limited to these diseases and conditions. However, only the patient’s doctor and audiologist are qualified to determine if the patient is a good candidate for the implantation. BAHA implants work through a system of bone conduction of sound.
During their appointment, patients will be able to try an external headband with a Cochlear processor. This way, patients will be able to practical experience how Cochlear implants work, as well as decide if it is the best course of action for them.
To be eligible for Cochlear implants, patients need to meet the below criteria:
- The patient suffers from hearing loss so severe that it interrupts conversations
- Little or no improvement from hearing aids
- Not suffering from medical conditions that increase the risks associated with cochlear implants
- The patient must be highly motivated to participate in hearing rehabilitation
- Patients must have realistic expectations of what the implants can and can’t do for their hearing
Cochlear BAHA Implant Procedure: What to Expect
Prior to the actual implantation process, a detailed testing and screening process will determine that the patient is ready or eligible for cochlear implants. Assuming the patient makes it through the screening and is approved and ready for the next steps, the following takes place.
During the start of the surgical procedure, the patient may be given an IV. This part of the implantation is surgical. However, the procedure doesn’t take a lot of time.
The medical team may shave the patient’s scalp around the implantation site, and attach cables to monitor the patient’s vitals.
Using a mask the patient will be provided with anesthesia and oxygen and put to sleep for the surgery.
During the procedure, the surgeon will make an incision behind the patient’s ear. A small hole will be created in the skull bone. This is where the internal device will be placed. A small opening will be made in the inner ear’s cochlea. This is where the electrode that sends signals to the cochlea from the processor will be implanted. Once the internal device has been placed, the incision behind the ear is stitched back.
Once the procedure is over and the patient wakes up, they may feel some pressure or discomfort over their ear. This is normal and will pass in time.
Once the procedure has been completed, the actual implant will be activated after 3-6 weeks, once the incision site has healed.
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Diagnosing the Need for Cochlear BAHA Implants
To recommend patients for Cochlear BAHA implants, the patient may be referred to an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) doctor to test their candidacy for BAHA implants. A series of tests will be undertaken to diagnose the patient. These tests include:
Audiogram or Audiology Test
This test will enable doctors to check the patient’s hearing levels.
Hearing Aid Trial
As a rule of thumb, before considering Cochlear implants, doctors will check the patient’s response to hearing aids and how much improvement or lack of it is seen by the patient.
CT (Computerized Tomography) Scan
CT scans are extremely important before proceeding with a cochlear implant. With a CT Scan, doctors can check the patient’s cochlear shape and narrow down on the exact position where the implant has to be surgically placed.
An MRI scan may also be used to construct a detailed image of the patient’s ear physiology.
Additional testing includes physiological and psychological tests to test the patient’s overall physical and mental wellbeing. The patient needs to be able to mentally cope with the implant and be motivated to learn how to use it. Further examinations include checking the patient’s outer, middle and inner ear structure for the presence of infections, abnormalities, or other possible conditions.
We’ve already mentioned how it is more affordable to pursue the best possible healthcare in India compared to what is offered internationally. For the treatment, you can connect with us and get the best results.
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