Looking Inside the Bionic Ear

shell2Dr. Graeme Clark explains of the bionic ear that the challenge was to put the wire around the inner ear which is only about 2-3 cm in diameter. Dr. Graeme got the idea to curl the wire from shells’ spirals and found that in this way a wire could go around the inner ear if it was bendable and flexible enough. This led them to designing the first prototype from the University of Melbourne; along with the electronics, which had to be reduced to match the size of the silicone tubes.

The bionic ear cochlear implant works by having an outside speech processor with a microphone and an imbedded receiver stimulator which stimulates the hearing. When one speaks the microphone picks up the sound waves, sends them through the speech processor which converts this into patterns of electrical signals which are then sent by radio waves through the skin to the implant. Then the implant stimulates the wires around the inner ear. This is the process by which a deaf person is able to hear. Listen to Dr. Graeme Clark explain this process.

Graeme Clark and Rod Saunders“There were many times during the early stages of my involvement with the bionic ear that I could have given up, but didn’t. In spite of problems, criticisms and difficulties I felt that I just had to go on to explore the possibilities to the very end. Someone had to do it, because it was the only chance that profoundly deaf people could have of being able to hear.” – Professor Graeme Clark AC (http://www.graemeclarkoration.org.au/about-graeme-clark.php)

 

The cochlear implant has evolved significantly due to the persistent innovative work and dedication from various teams and researchers. They have been successfully used since the 1980s.

Just last year, researches at the Tel Aviv University discovered that under certain conditions, bilateral cochlear implants (implants placed in both ears) have the ability to salvage binaural sound processing for the deaf. Learn more about Dr. Henkin’s work.

Follow the Signs- Protect Your Hearing

Do you have difficulty hearing and following conversations in noisy restaurants and crowded rooms? Are male voices easier to understand than female voices? Do you experience ringing or buzzing sounds in your ears? If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you may have a hearing loss and need to visit an audiologist. Audiologists are healthcare professionals that specialize in evaluating, diagnosing, treating and managing hearing loss and balance disorders in adults and children.

Untreated hearing loss affects your ability to understand speech, negatively impacting you socially and emotionally. Hearing loss can affect people of all ages; not just seniors. Over 36 million American adults have some degree of hearing loss. The statistics are shocking, especially knowing that over half of those 36 million Americans are younger than age 65.

Protect Your Hearing12 million Americans have hearing loss as a result of noise exposures. Over 5 million of those people are under the age of 18. Noise induced hearing loss is a permanent and preventable disability that can affect your quality of life. Follow these easy steps to protect your hearing:

  • Walk away from the noise
  • Turn down the volume
  • Wear proper ear protection

Hearing loss is an increasing preventable health concern in this nation. Taking time to see an audiologist for regular hearing screenings and knowing the signs of hearing loss can protect your hearing. This October is both Audiology Awareness Month and Protect Your Hearing Month! Follow the guide below to avoid extended exposure to loud noises and celebrate by preventing hearing damage; or go to the American Academy of Audiology’s website to see what you can do to spread awareness this month.

Noise Levels Poster