When Was the Cochlear Implant Invented?
ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) notes that the first single-channel cochlear implants were first invented in 1972, but the idea for simulating hearing through electrical impulses was explored long before the 70s.
As far back as 1800, a man named Alessandro Volta first reported auditory stimulation through electrical impulses in the ear canal. By the mid-1980s, over 1000 people, including children, had the implant.
Who Receives Cochlear Implants?
Cochlear implants are for children and adults that are deaf or hard of hearing. The FDA approved children who are deaf or hard of hearing to receive implants as young as one year old.
What Does the Cochlear Implant Do?
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), a cochlear implant consists of a microphone, a speech processor, a transmitter and receiver/stimulator, and an electrode array. The microphone amplifies sound; the speech processor arranges organizes the sound and speech in the environment; the transmitter and receiver/stimulator receives signals from the speech processor and translates them into electrical impulses for your brain to decode; and the electrode array, or a group of electrodes, gather the impulses from the stimulator and sends them to the auditory nerve.
It’s important to note that not everyone elects to obtain a cochlear implant, even if they have profound hearing loss, for a variety of reasons. The cost, the risk of surgery, and other social factors may play a role in choosing not the get a cochlear implant. All of these reasons are valid, and respecting other’s personal choices is the right thing to do.