Cochlear Implants (CI)


    Syllabus: GS3/Developments in Science and Technology


    • The burden of hearing loss in India is significant as it is one of the most common congenital anomalies to affect children.


    • The WHO Reports that severe to profound hearing loss affects nearly 2 – 3 per 1000 live births, making it the most common congenital abnormality to affect newborns the world over.
      • This scenario is even more pronounced in developing countries such as the Indian sub-continent, especially with the continuing problem of consanguineous marriages.
    • Hearing loss at birth is considered a social stigma even in present-day society and results in a double tragedy, as it leads to not only deafness but also speech and language deprivation and communication problems.
    • However, hearing loss today is the only truly remediable handicap, due to remarkable advances in biomedical engineering and surgical techniques.
      • Rather than mend a diseased organ, the emphasis has shifted to bypassing it with a bionic prosthetic device.

    Cochlear implants (CI)

    • Cochlear implants (CI) can help deafened individuals living in a world of silence enter the world of sound.
    • They are biocompatible and safe as well as extremely effective in restoring hearing in both children and adults with severe -profound hearing loss, who do not benefit from conventional hearing aids. 
    • These implantable devices electronically stimulate the cochlear nerve (nerve of hearing), bypassing the damaged hair cells of the cochlea (inner ear).
      • Thus, hearing restoration is the first successful attempt in medical science to integrate an electronic device with the central nervous system, in order to fully restore a lost special sense organ.
    • CIs are electronic devices with external and internal components and are designed to detect mechanical sound energy and convert it into electrical signals that can be delivered to the cochlear nerve.
    • These electrical signals are processed by an external speech processor and sent via a radiofrequency interface into an array of electrodes implanted surgically within the cochlea (inner ear).
    • Early identification and management of hearing loss is extremely important for good outcomes with a CI.
    • In Tamil Nadu, the cochlear implant program has been very successful as free cochlear implants are being sponsored for children under six years and below the poverty line.
      • Nearly 5000 CIs have therefore been performed in Tamil Nadu under the Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme.

    Source: TH