What does it take to make hundreds of thousands

  • Technology can replace just one sense: hearing. The miracle device, called the cochlear implant, has been able to give the gift and ability to hear to nearly 800,000. These people would not have survived 50 years ago had they not been hearing.

    What does it take to make hundreds of thousands of people hear again? And what will it cost?

    Cochlear implants' history is full of fascinating tales of engineering and medical ingenuity, perseverance, perseverance and passion.

    Early acoustic experimentation

    Composer Ludwig van Beethoven (* 1770) started losing his hearing in his Thirties and ordered custom-made ear trumpets to remedy the loss of hearing. The mechanical amplifiers were not enough for Beethoven's composer.

    The first mention of stimulating the auditory system with electricity dates back to the 1800s. Alessandro Volta, the father of the modern lithium battery could hear bubbling and crackling sounds during electrical tests that he did on his own using a probe inserted into the ears. More than one hundred years after it was the "Wever and Bray experiment", named after two researchers, suggested that the restoration of absent hearing might be possible in certain circumstances.

    The first prosthesis made of acoustic.

    In the year 1957, Andre Djourno (physicist) and Charles Eyries (otologist) implanted a French patient who was deaf with an electric prosthesis that stimulated directly his hearing nerve. While the patient was able to discern various levels of volume however, he was not able to comprehend speech. Another device, implanted into another patient failed shortly after it was placed. Eyries quit later due to interpersonal and ethical conflict.

    Eyriess's and Djourno's cochlear implant technology pioneering work inspired the Dr William House, a Los Angeles-based optologist to develop an auditory device that can last longer. Dr. House is the father of CI neurotology. In 1961, he was the one responsible for implanting the first single-channel cochlear implant for patients. His results were far more promising than those of French colleagues. His patients could understand only a couple of words. Unfortunately, medical complications stemming from the technology used forced Dr. House to postpone his work for several years.

    It was around 40 years ago that the pioneers of cochlear implants were faced with severe criticism. Audiologists and ENT doctors were skeptical that hearing could be restored through electrical stimulation. They argued that the patterns of stimulation were more complicated than the neural responses in hearing ear normalization.

    Finally, you're successful

    The cochlear implant pioneers from all over the globe did not give up, and they persevered with determination. Ingeborg Hochmair Desoyer, a young doctorate student at Vienna Technical University, was determined to find a cure for the loss of hearing in the 1970s. They explored the concept of a cochlear implant that utilized more than one channel of stimulation with passion and perseverance. Multi-channel cochlear implants that they developed were implanted successfully on December 16 1977 by Kurt Burian, a surgeon at Vienna General Hospital. It was now possible to implant the first cochlear device that was multichannel. On the opposite side of the globe, the Australian otologist Graeme Clark followed with his version of a multi-channel implant some eight months later.Electrical engineers were the technological pioneers of today's cochlear implant, but surgeons and their groundbreaking research were equally important. Kurt Burian didn’t have any instructions for surgical cochlear implant installation in the 70s. So, he was forced come up with his own surgical method. There were no imaging equipment to aid him in the preparation. Magnet Resonance imaging and computer tomography weren't yet in use. These two imaging methods are currently common in cochlear surgery. "For the cochlear implant field, this first surgery was like the first man to walk on the moon in 1969" Professor Wolf-Dieter Baumgartner who is an the ENT specialist at Vienna's General Hospital.Technology is on the rise.

    In the late 1970s, cochlear implant technology was not as advanced as it is nowadays. It was able to deliver audio information and permit users to read lips. The technology evolved, with speech-coding strategies. Conny the Austrian patient, was the first person to use a cochlear implant with substantial open-set speech recognition without lip-reading. Ever since, enhanced methods of coding sound and devices have resulted in remarkable performance and users benefits.Benefiting those who suffer from hearing loss.

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    The commercialization of cochlear implants came with their success. Ingeborg Hochmair is manufacturer of cochlear implants in Europe employed three employees to develop the MED-EL. The field has been expanding at a rapid rate and many specialties have developed: bilateral cochlear implantation, single-sided deafness, binaural hearing Electro-Acoustic Stimulation (EAS) hearing preservation, and drug delivery to mention some. The technology has made huge improvements in many areas.