Thursday, January 10, 2013

Wednesday Words: Cochlear Implant

A cochlear implant is an implantable device that stimulates that auditory nerve of people with severe-profound sensorineural hearing loss.  Check out our interactive diagram of How a Cochlear Implant Works.

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  1. How Does It Work? The way a cholear implant works it that the sound waves in the environment are picked up by the pinna and funneled down the ear canal to the eardrum. These waves strike the eardrum, leading it to vibrate. There are 3 tiny bones attached to the eardrum, called the ossicles. As the ear drum vibrates, so do the ossicles. The smallest of these bones is the stapes, which is attached to the snail-shaped cochlea. The motion of the stapes causes the liquid within the cochlea to move. The movement of this liquid turns on thousands of sensory receptors, called hair cells, which line the cochlea. As the hair cells are excited, they convert the vibrations into electric beats, which are sent along nerve fibers to the brain. The brain interprets these beats as sounds. For folks who are cochlear implant applicants, the outer ear and the middle ear function usually.