Also known as 'bionic ear', the function of cochlear implants is to stimulate the auditory nerve and help people who are severely hard of hearing or are profoundly deaf, to improve their hearing ability. There is a difference between cochlear implants and hearing aids. The later, merely amplify sounds reaching the ear and direct them to the ear canal. On the other hand, in cochlear implants, acoustic sounds are converted into electrical pulses. These pulses, in turn, stimulate the auditory nerve directly. Cochlear implants do not restore a person's hearing; it's not a cure for deafness. They only improve the hearing perception. Age and occurrence of the hearing impairment govern the eligibility of a person to receive such implants.
Why Should You Get Cochlear Implants?
☛ enable the affected person to hear conversations, and learn spoken languages.
☛ help a person to make use of devices such as telephones, and enjoy listening to music and the like.
☛ spare him/her of learning sign languages, or lip reading.
☛ help the person work on consonants such as /sh/, /s/, /f/, etc.
As a whole, this technology makes life easier for the person who would have otherwise faced several problems in social interaction, and at work place thus, improving the quality of life. It would boost the implantee's self-confidence as then he/she can have a better control of his day-to-day activities.
Why Should Not You Get Cochlear Implants?
☛ As cochlear implants require surgery, it may give rise to complications such as loss of taste, facial spasms or twitches, partial face numbness, and tinnitus. Staph infection, and paralysis could also be the side effects.
☛ If a person receives the implants at a later age, it is possible that his/her brain might face issues with converting electronic signals into understandable language. This, however, should not be a problem with kids who receive the implants from an early age.
☛ Receivers are advised to refrain from getting involved in sports such as football, scuba diving, sitting in a sauna, etc. All such activities might damage the implant.
☛ Cochlear implants might not be a wise choice for people who have an ongoing condition associated with the brain. This is because, such people often undergo tests such as the MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). And people with such implants are not considered as eligible candidates for these tests.
☛ Going for cochlear implants may get heavy on the pocket, as with inadequate insurance, medical procedures and devices are expensive and so are the processor and accessories.
☛ Static may also be an issue when the person is working with computers, or is in the vicinity of instruments such as a radar detector.
☛ In case of any complications, follow-up care may become pricey.
☛ For some people, sticking to the implanted device for the rest of their life, may turn out be a major disadvantage, as any replacement would again invite high cost for surgery and device. Moreover, if the device fails, then the person may have to spend some time in silence until the next surgery, which again depends on how soon the patient's insurance company approves for the same.
☛ The implants are not free of maintenance which include changing of batteries, wire replacement, and sound remapping in the processor; all these come for a hefty price.
☛ Some people may also find it uncomfortable to wear the body processor all the time. One of the problems could be related to clothing.
☛ Another major con is related to cochlear implants and deaf culture. People who go for these implants are believed to be changing themselves to fit themselves into the hearing community, with a deliberate attempt. Rejection is what arises for those who make up their mind to receive these implants. They are considered to be no longer a part of the deaf community.
By far, in this discussion of the cochlear implants pros and cons, we can infer that the side effects which arise post surgery can be considered to be some of the major disadvantages. So it is imperative for one to weigh the benefits against the risks and side effects, before taking a decision.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.