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What Are Auditory Brainstem Implants?

Ear Structure


Technology has opened doors for the hard of hearing community that no one would have believed possible ten years ago. One of the latest advances is the auditory brainstem implant. It’s similar to cochlear implants, however, these implants are placed in the brainstem and serves as the replacement for a defective auditory nerve.

It’s proven especially beneficial for those with hearing loss due to Type II neurofibromatosis, especially in those cases where the auditory nerve has been severed. Most promising is that it’s been approved for teens and older children.

These implants have three primary parts –

  • An incredibly small microphone that’s strategically placed by the ear to pick up sound.
  • A decoding chip that’s implanted just under the skin so that information that’s been transmitted can be “picked up” by the microphone; and
  • Electrodes that are connected to the brainstem. when these electrodes are stimulated, it alerts the wearer of sound.

Usually, the implants are inserted when one has surgery. From there, a patient’s audiologist will adjust the sound processor while teaching the patient how to both use and understand the various signals. It’s important for anyone considering ABI to understand it usually takes several weeks or even a few months for the adjustments. Patients, after the adjustments, will then see their audiologist annually.

While this technology doesn’t restore one’s hearing, it does serve as a viable option for those wishing to distinguish various sounds, such as trains and telephone ringers. It has proven to be successful for those who want to improve their communication efforts.

So is ABI right for you? You should contact your doctor to discuss the pros and cons for your specific situation.

Donna is a professional writer residing in south Mississippi. With more than 15 years writing experience, she has written several e-books, countless newsletters and has provided content for more than 150 websites. She completed her first novel last year and is currently in the research phase for her second novel. She has worked with battered women for two decades as they seek safety away from their abusers. Many of these victims suffer hearing damage or hearing loss as a result of the abuse they endure. With this insight, she brings an interesting dynamic to the Hard of Hearing for Young People Foundation. Donna on Google+

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