Cochlear implants — with no exterior hardware – MIT News Office

MIT news is reporting that they are actively working on a new form of cochlear implant that eliminates the need for an external speech processor. From our understanding, the main issue that was holding back the development of an “all-internal” speech processor was battery life. There simply is no current battery that is powerful enough to last without a charge at that size. However, this breakthrough method uses the natural microphone of the middle ear – eliminating the need for an electrically powered microphone, which reduces greatly the need for battery power. Read more in the article below. If this is successful, it presents a great milestone in the development of technology for the hearing impaired.

Cochlear implants — with no exterior hardware – MIT News Office.

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Cochlear Accessories are So Expensive

cochlear implant coil cableCochlear implant accessories and parts can be so expensive. If you are like many of us that insurance doesn’t cover the cost of replacement parts, you can easily spend upwards of $1,000 a year to cover the cost of parts for the implants.
Take for example, the headset coil cable for the Nucleus Freedom implant. The price for just one piece is $290. This coil cable breaks frequently, and must be replaced.
Add that to the cost of batteries ($195 for each rechargeable battery), magnets ($36), microphone covers ($42). Cochlear implants are a wonderful invention, but they do cost plenty.

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Advanced Bionics CEO Holds Online Chat

advanced-bionicsAdvanced Bionics President & CEO Mr. Jeff Greiner will be holding an online chat tonight (Sept. 8th) at 8 PM ET. The topic of the chat is officially about AB’s commitment to support every generation of AB recipient. Most likely the interesting part of the discussion will be the Q & A following the event.

We have seen a tremendous surge in the amount of young children receiving cochlear implants over the past two years. This is due to early infant screenings, and insurance companies becoming more agreeable to the reimbursement of cochlear implantation of younger children.

We’ll have someone on the chat, and try to get some of our questions answered. Some of the topics we’d be interested in are:

  1. How far away are we from the “internal speech processor”?
  2. AB’s response to Cochlear Corporation’s Freedom processor.
  3. Battery life in the body worn processors.
  4. Bilateral cochlear implants – Is this still a novelty or is it becoming standard practice?
  5. What does the insurance reimbursement front look like – both with regards to the actual surgery as well as the follow up care such as audiological and speech/language sessions and evaluations?

We look forward to posting our recap of the chat here.

CLICK HERE for the link to the online chat.

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Open Letter to PHONAK – Maker of FM Systems for Cochlear Implants

grayPhonak Inc., USA
4520 Weaver Parkway
Warrenville , IL 60555-3927

Esteemed Product Engineer:

The following letter has been written by my 7-year old daughter, who is a user of your products.

Why did you make the shoe and the wire for the FM system that attaches to my Freedom the color gray? Does that make any sense? If it is for white people, then it should be beige. And if it is for black people, then it should be brown. But there are no gray people! Please write me back with an answer. Gray is such a silly color that looks so funny on me.

Yours truly,

Miriam, 7
Brooklyn, NY

P.S. I hope you change it soon.

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Relaxing After Testing at University of Wisconsin – Part 2

While we were at the University, our daughter spent most of her time taking part in the testing. We arrived early Tuesday afternoon and spent two hours testing. After we finished, our daughter sampled the amenities of the hotel. Here are some quick scenes to enjoy:

Exercising at the Best Western – Madison, WI

Swimming at the Best Western – Madison, WI

In the second video, she is not wearing her implants, so she can’t hear me.
More to follow…

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Testing at University of Wisconsin – Part 1

Bilateral Cochlear Implant testing

Bilateral Cochlear Implant testing

As we told you previously, our daughter took part in a study to assess the positive effects of bilateral cochlear implants at the Speech and Hearing Lab of the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Here is a photo of our daugher looking on as she is placed in the booth with a semi-circle array of speakers. She was instructed to try and detect where the sound is originating from by using a computer mouse to click on the speaker that she believes the sound originates from.

This is to try and gauge the benefits of sound localization that are being realized from having bilateral implants.

We will give more details of her trip in future posts.

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Going to Madison, WI for Binaural Testing

girl with bilateral cochlear implants on the way to mainstream school
As our daughter has passed the second anniversary of her bilateral implant activation, we are choosing to have her participate in a federally funded research that is conducted by Professor Ruth Litovsky at the Waisman Center of the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Our daughter, who is 6 years old and has been profoundly deaf since birth, will be tested thoroughly in order to gain more insight into the benefits of bilateral implantation vs. single ear implants.

She is scheduled to travel to Madison next week – we will keep you posted on the details of the trip and the tests.

Stay tuned!

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Nucleus Babyworn – Good or Bad?

It has been a few months since Cochlear released the Nucleus Babyworn System that allows infants to use the Freedom BTE controller by attaching the processor to their clothing.

We are curious as to what percentage of parents are preferring this method over the traditional way which is to use the bodyworn controller until the child is able to wear the BTE comfortably on their ears.

Some parents have reported that their infants are able to pull the processor off the clips of the Babyworn. We have not noticed any change in order levels for our shirts. This would suggest that parents are still preferring the bodyworn controllers for their infants.

Please Post comments of your own personal experiences.  Many others will benefit from what you may have to say! 🙂

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Hair Cell Regeneration – Myth or Reality

human ear diagramIn this month’s issue of Volta Voices, Dr. Stephen Epstein discusses the latest on the status of the fabled “hair cell regeneration” – which is the ability to restore hearing capabilities to the damaged hair cells of the inner ear. Many parents, when deciding if they should implant their child, worry that perhaps by implanting their child they are denying them the option of having their hearing restored naturally through this process.

According to Dr. Epstein, the most promising area of research is the controversial method of using stem cells to replace the destroyed tissue. Human stem cells would be most effective for this process, as they would have the greatest potential to produce normal hearing in humans. However, according to current federal regulations, human embryo stem cell research is prohibited. Therefore, research must be carried out on mice and then many tests must be conducted to see if the results are applicable to humans.

Many experts believe that even should a breakthrough be made in this field, it would take the Food and Drug Administration close to 10 years to approve the method for use in children. To wait that long and leave a child without the ability to hear would destroy the child’s ability to develop normal auditory and language skills. Therefore – the wisest choice would be to not be concerned with what future technology may bring, and jump and what is available today for your child.

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Child’s Voice of Wood Dale, Ill. in the Chicago Tribune

Our good friends at Child’s Voice School for Hearing Impaired children outside Chicago were reported on in the Chicago Tribune. In the article, Michele Wilkins, the school’s director, described how she started the school back with only a few children, and how the school has grown over the years.

Interestingly, Michele tells how the enrollment has declined over the recent past due to the increase of mainstreaming children with deafness into ordinary schools, which can be directly tied to the amazing results achieved by the use of cochlear implants.

I just edited the Wikipedia article about cochlear implants, which stated that the results of cochlear implants in children “have been mixed”. All you parents know that the cochlear implant produces amazing results, and certainly the child is better off with them than without.

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