Saturday, June 21, 2008

Beyond The Cochlear Implants

As society advances, the deaf society advances with it.

Cochlear implants, widely used at this time, is a device with a few dozen electrodes that tries to do the work of thousands of damaged or missing hair cells inside the human cochlea. Children who are implanted with the cochlear implants oftentimes quit using them usually in their teen years due to many reasons not excluding the following possibilities;

1) Maintenance costs and issues
2) Variability in outcomes
3) Limitations on activities, travel, and diagnosis
4) Social or peer pressures

This comes to looking for solutions beyond cochlear implants. One such solution is the use of stem cells.

Ear Hair Cells Ear Hair Cells

The stem cell solution for hearing loss/disabilities is replacing the missing or damaged hair cells inside the human cochlea to restore hearing and improve balance. And doing it early in the child's years would eliminate the 4 main possibilities and let the child develop naturally. Stem cells has the potential to beat even the best technology available to treat humans.

The risks of stem cell transplantation include the possibility of developing into incorrect cells, stem cells turning into cancer cells, and other risks associated with invasive procedures.

I currently serve on the Patient Advocate Council at the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center situated in the University of California Irvine.

Richard Roehm


  1. How many years away is stem cells? I have been hearing about it for years. I am not willing to wait 10 more years for cell regeneration. I want the most current technology now.

    **I wore hearing aids for 27 years and never once took them off for preer pressure. It was a tool I used to help me hear. I can't see myself stopping wearing my CIs. It gives too much to my life.

    I would love to see some numbers on how many teenagers discard their CIs.

  2. "Children who are implanted with the cochlear implants oftentimes quit using them usually in their teen years due to many reasons"

    When you make statements like this, you need to back them up with factual data. I do not believe that this statement is true any longer, and I'd like to know your sources.

  3. When we formed the PAC a little over 2 years ago the information was developed by the university. Right now there has been a lot of advancements and the numbers of teens quitting the cochlear implants has gone way down.

    Then information I posted is old, over 2 years old. I just needed to test the rss feed to deafvillage so I used the information from the flyers I handed out at the groundbreaking ceremony for the SGSCRC.

    I'm not trying to discourage the use of cochlear implants nor suggest holding out till the newer technology is available.

    The CI is the 'latest' technology available and would suggest people get them.

    Theres newer technology like the brain stem implant and stem cells that are ahead into the future. A real deaf advocate has his/her eyes into the future.

    Even this type of information will be echoed at the AG Bell conference this coming weekend so get your eyes and ears focused over there.

    Richard Roehm