If you thought that your deafness could never be permanently cured, think again. This is because India has started benefiting from the global phenomenon of cochlear implant development, a boon for the hearing impaired. It is indeed a matter of pride that Cochlear implant surgery in India currently matches global standards and is yielding some very successful results in providing that much sought after relief to thousands suffering from permanent deafness or gradual hearing loss.
It is indeed heartening to note that India has been no laggard in implementing recent advances for treating progressive deafness and Cochlear implant surgery in India is being done at par with global standards. Even though advanced implants are placed on the hearing bones of the middle ear that vibrate and subsequently transmit sound waves to the human brain, a Cochlear implant is a more intricate and elaborate micro-surgical procedure to fit a tiny hearing device under the skin behind the ear. The implant comprises a sound processor placed externally, electrode array & electronics package and receiver coil. After making a small incision behind the ear, the surgeon accesses the patient’s middle ear where the implant is placed.
The external processor picks up the sound and after analyzing it, converts it to signals. These are transmitted to the internal receiver-stimulator relaying the same on the electrode array to the cochlea. This signal then moves on to the brain by way of the auditory nerve. It needs to be borne in mind, however, that cochlear implants are successful only where the patient’s auditory nerves happen to function normally. Cochlear implant has indeed turned out to be a manna from heaven for Indian children who suffer from acute bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. This condition unfortunately can’t be treated through hearing aids. Cochlear implant surgery in India has yielded the best results in juveniles below the age of 6 where implants have been placed in both ears.
In India, cochlear implant surgery is in fact being considered a super-specialization now as surgeons are working solely in this field only. And this has undoubtedly raised post-surgical success rates substantially. Most people suffering from conductive deafness can now hear and converse without lip reading and also speak freely on telephones. The results have been better with those young children who have undergone the procedure very early on in life with proper post-operative rehabilitation and therapy because they get easily accustomed to the device when they first learn to hear and converse.
Even though the cost has been reduced from the initial Rs 11 lakhs to Rs 6.6 lakhs currently, most of the rural population where this procedure is mostly needed, find it way out of their reach. The government is, however, taking necessary steps to reduce it to Rs 1 lakh so that the masses are benefited from this great scientific advancement. Another important factor that needs careful consideration is post-operative follow-up, rehabilitation and training parents of young children to aid their recovery, without which the procedure can never be fully successful.