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Cochlear implants are the most successful medical intervention for those severely-to-profoundly deafened. The cochlear implant does not amplify sound like a conventional hearing aid. Instead, it bypasses the damaged parts of the inner ear and delivers electrical impulses to the auditory nerve which, in turn, sends information to the brain.

Current technology uses a microphone and speech processor worn outside of the ear to collect sound and speech information. The device looks much like a conventional hearing aid. The processor collects sound information and sends it to the surgically implanted device, which then sends the signal to the brain via the auditory nerve.

The illustration at right shows how a ci works.
(Illustration and text below courtesy of Advanced Bionics.)

  1. Sound is captured by a microphone on the sound processor.

  2. The sound processor converts the captured sound into detailed digital information.

  3. The magnetic headpiece transmits digital signals to the internal implant.

  4. The implant turns the received digital information into electrical information that travels down the electrode array to the auditory nerve.

  5. The auditory nerve sends impulses to the brain, where they are interpreted as sound.

Click here for a complete description of the CI Process from the Dallas Ear Institute.

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