A cochlear implant is a small and complex electronic device made for those who are deaf or have lost their hearing. Unlike hearing aids that only amplify sound, the cochlear implant provides a person with a sense of sound; the device works with the brain and auditory processes in the ear to interpret speech and other sounds in the environment to give the wearer a truer sense of hearing. The cochlear implant is separated into two sections; one portion sits at the back of the ear, visible, while another portion of the implant is surgically placed under the skin within the ear canal.
Cochlear implants are made up of several different parts that work together to provide the truest sound and quality for a deaf person. There is a microphone that picks up the sounds found in the environment, and a speech processor that selects and then arranges all speech in the vicinity. A cochlear implant also has a transmitter coupled with a receiver, or a stimulator. These receive the signals that come from the processor of speech and then convert the signals into electric impulses. The cochlear implant also includes an electrode array. This group of electrodes is responsible for collecting the impulses from the stimulator. The impulses are then sent to various regions found in the auditory nerve.
The implant is considered one of the greatest advances in hearing technology. More than 100,000 people worldwide have undergone the procedure with positive results. While it can be implanted at any age, it is best to have it as soon as possible, especially for children who have been born deaf. Younger patients are better able to benefit from the implant, as their brains are still developing and they will be able to interpret sound and speech faster than someone who has been deaf most of their life before being able to hear. It can take years for someone who has been deaf for a long period of time to fully adapt to the implant.
Unfortunately, studies have shown negative effects of cochlear implants. Although they have done great things for people and they way they live, cochlear implants may pose a serious health risk for people who are not careful. In 2002, it was discovered that a string of meningitis cases, many fatal, were caused by infection due to the cochlear implant. Most of these patients were under the age of 7 and had not been properly vaccinated.
Mostly, the children who undergo the procedure have higher chances of undergoing the negative effects of a cochlear implant. Studies have shown that there is a great risk of acquiring pneumococcal meningitis when fitted with a cochlear implant. Studies have also stated that children are most susceptible to acquiring the illness. A cochlear implant may require a positioner – a small wedge inserted with the implant to increase effectiveness – which may increase a patient's risk of developing meningitis. Some deaf people may unknowingly have congenital abnormalities of the cochlea, predisposing them to meningitis even prior to implantation. People who became deaf or developed significant hearing loss as a result of meningitis are also at increased risk of another episode of meningitis.
If you or your child is suffering from meningitis or other cochlear implant related problems, it is wise to contact a lawyer immediately. A lawyer can help all cochlear implant victims file suit against the manufacturers and obtain compensation. As the manufacturers did not do more extensive research on their product before releasing it, they should take responsibility. Taking legal action against the cochlear implant manufacturers may be a long and arduous process, but seeking compensation may be the only way your family can deal with the aftereffects. Meningitis causes many problems for victims and their families,both emotionally and financially. A lawyer can help get your family back on track and recover the compensation you need and deserve.