For a hearing aid to amplify incoming sound, there must be functioning hair cells within the ear and an intact nerve to transmit the amplified signal to the central auditory, or hearing, pathways. A cochlear implant replaces the function that has been lost because of damage to the tiny hair cells within the cochlea, which is the auditory portion of the inner ear.
Cochlear implants, offered at NYU Langone’s Cochlear Implant Center, are surgically placed within the inner ear, directly stimulating the auditory nerve, bypassing the damaged structures of the inner ear. The basic design of the implant system consists of an external microphone, a sound processor and transmitter, and an internal receiver-stimulator and electrode array.
The microphone captures incoming sounds and converts them into electrical signals. The processor reconfigures, amplifies, and manipulates the electrical signal into an analog or digital signal, which is then transmitted to the receiver or stimulator and electrode array of the device. The electrodes stimulate the auditory nerve, which carries the signals to the brain, where they are recognized as sound.
A cochlear implant can assist people who qualify for one in hearing and understanding speech better. The surgery required for the implant has a very low rate of complication and can be performed for children and adults. Surgery for children is provided by NYU Langone doctors at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone.