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You are here : 3-RX.com > Home > Ear / Nose / Throat -

Hearing implants improve quality of life

Ear / Nose / ThroatMar 25, 08

For people with profound hearing loss, getting a cochlear implant—an electronic device that restores partial hearing—leads to a marked improvement in speech recognition and quality of life, new research confirms.

A cochlear implant is surgically implanted in the inner ear and activated by a device worn outside the ear. Unlike a hearing aid, it does not make sound louder or clearer. Instead, the device bypasses damaged parts of the hearing system and directly stimulates the hearing nerve, allowing individuals who are profoundly hearing-impaired to hear sound.

“The results of our study are once more proof that cochlear implantation is indeed a successful treatment for improving quality of life and speech recognition for deaf patients,” write Dr. Anke Hirschfelder from Charite-Universitatsmedizin in Berlin and colleagues.

They evaluated 56 hearing-impaired adults who received cochlear implants from 1995 to 2005 and who had the implant for at least 12 months. The group consisted of 20 men and 36 women who had been deaf for an average of 10.2 years before cochlear implantation.

The study subjects provided information before and after cochlear implantation on sound perception, speech, self-esteem, and social interaction using a validated questionnaire specific to cochlear implant recipients.

The cochlear implant recipients reported significant improvements in all areas evaluated, with especially large gains seen in the areas of basic and advanced sound perception. Significant improvements were also seen in the areas of social functioning and mental health.

Cochlear implantation led to a “significant increase in health-related quality of life,” Hirschfelder and colleagues note in the medical journal Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery.

They add: “The benefit of cochlear implantation has been demonstrated by the fact that a large proportion of our subjects (89.2 percent) were always or mostly satisfied with their cochlear implant.” Patients in the study reported using the implants for more than 14 hours per day, on average.

SOURCE: Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, March 2008.

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