Archive for cochlear implants

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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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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Myth # 2 – “Cochlear Implants Cure Deafness”

When Cochlear Implants first became available, there was this widespread belief that a “cure for deafness” has been found. The myth that is still very popular to this day, is that once a person receives an implant, they are no longer deaf.

A warning posted on the National Association for the Deaf website warns that “cochlear implants are not a cure for deafness.”

Of course, parents of children with cochlear implants know very well that even with a cochlear implant, their child is still very much deaf. Swimming, bathing, school, and even conversations in noisy places are all still very challenging for them. Cochlear implants do provide a tremendous opportunity for the deaf to communicate with general society, and it is only with lots of hard work, patience, and perseverance that they are able to do so.

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Has Sicko Increased Awareness about Cochlear Implants?

Michael Moore’s latest film released this past weekend has already caused quite a stir in the movie critic world. 'What can I do?' - SiCKOSicko achieved a # 9 spot this weekend even with low coverage. Although most of the reviews were somewhat positive, there seemed to be something noticeably absent from the reviews that we’ve seen so far.

Prominent in the film was the story of a young child who was originally denied coverage for a second cochlear implant, as described in a previous post. We were hoping to see some heavy media coverage about the cochlear implant and its benefits, thereby increasing its awareness to the public. Most implant recipients and their families hate the blank stare they get when they tell people that they have a cochlear implant. It would be nice if this film would expose the world at large to the wonders we experience with them.

However, this does not seem to be the case. None of the reviews I’ve seen so far mention the cochlear implant even with relation to the film, and it appears that most viewers will not come away any more knowledgeable about the implant than before.

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Myth # 4 – “Hair Cell Regeneration”

This myth is gaining in popularity very quickly. We have found that many friends and family members – who had no idea what a cochlear implant was before our daughter got hers – have suddenly become the world’s foremost experts on hearing loss! 🙂

Everyone is suddenly worried that by getting a cochlear implant – your child will be missing out on the upcoming technology that can restore hearing to the damaged hair cells.

This is of course, a ridiculous myth. Although some day science may discover a way to regenerate hair cells in humans, it will be years before this technology is approved for safe use in children. Take a look at the cochlear implant, it was first approved for use in children in 1990, while the first implant was available almost 10 years before then.

Since the approval process takes so long, and we don’t even know where science is holding in this matter, to hold back from implanting your child – and denying their formative years of hearing and language, for the pipe dream of receiving the benefit of hair cell regeneration, is just a plain dumb idea.

Giving your child an implant (or two!) is granting them a gift of life. Do it for them, and do it right away.

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Troubleshooting the Nucleus Freedom

More trouble with the Freedom?

Yesterday, our daughter went into NYC for a scheduled six-month evaluation. Before she left, we checked her Nucleus Freedom Controller.

Guess what, it wasn’t working.

This is not a surprise to the many readers of this blog. Cochlear Implants always break, and always at the least convenient times. We just shared with you our own recent experiences.

At the clinic, what was supposed to be an evaluation turned into a troubleshooting session. Turns out, her coil was no good, and it didn’t allow the unit to turn on. Seems to be a common problem, but because of it, we have to reschedule our evaluation until September!!

Remember, the Nucleus Freedom will not turn on if one of the parts are defective. This is done purposely to ensure that you will not put the processor on when it’s not working properly. Your audiologist can change the settings that a red LED light will shine when the processor is properly connected and is transmitting properly.

If you can put up with all the breaking down, the Freedom’s great features ensure that your child will always be hearing. 🙂

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Update to Nucleus Freedom

New_FreedomAn Earlier Post mentioned how the quality of the Nucleus Freedom could use some improvement.

Well apparently, Cochlear seems to have listened. My daughters new body worn controller arrived today, and as can be seen from the photo, they have at least corrected the problem we’ve  experienced.

The copper strip where the controls of the unit press down on are imbedded into the controller so that it should not come up easily. In addition, there are strong metal brackets holding it in place. The whole controller seems more rugged, and is likely to last longer.

We will post if anything happens to it in the near future.

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