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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Hunter's "Ears"

Audio Diagram

Cochlear Implant

Many Friends and Family have had questions about what an implant is, why he needs one, and how does it work? I will do my best to explain...

Normal hearing is about 10-20 decibels. When Hunter was tested he was found to have Profound loss bilaterally(both ears). Hearing aids amplify or make sounds louder. If you have a a hearing loss, amplifying sounds can help you hear them....the inner parts of the ear work and are getting the messages to the brain if it's loud enough. When the loss is severe to profound and or there is a problem with the cochlea itself, simply making things louder doesn't help.

The cochlea is the sea shell shaped bone behind the ear. It is filled with fluid and is lined with tiny hairs. When the sound enters, it vibrates and stimulated the hearing(auditory) nerve. The little hairs in Hunter's ears may not be there, there may not be enough, they may be flat, we will probably never know why he is deaf. The implant is placed under the skin on the side of his head, the coil on the wire will be placed into the cochlea. Check out the picture above to see the implant size next to the nickel. You can also see in the diagram where it sits when it's implanted. The "coil" consists of electrodes that will send electrical pulses to the auditory nerve directly. Those cute little ears will not have to work, the implant will do it for him!
He will wear an external processor behind his ear that will pick up the sounds through a small microphone on the processor. The sound is sent to the external coil into the implant where the pulses will be, over time, read by the brain as sounds. A small magnet is in the internal implant and a small magnet is in the external coil. The two will twin up and the coil will magically stick to his head thanks to the magnets. The picture above also shows the processor on and off. It's only when this is on that he will be able to "hear."

Hunter will always be deaf, but when he is wearing his processor, he will be able to hear us. AMAZING!
After surgery it won't be for another month or so that he is activated. This simply means turned on! It's then that he will get the external processor and hear us for the first sounds!
I hope this answers some questions and helps!

1 comment:

  1. E - I'm so proud of you. Thanks so much for sharing this site with me. I keep Hunter (and you and Blair) in prayer every day. I want to make a special trip to meet him. It's unreal how much he looks like your baby pictures! ~ Lauren