A cochlear implant (CI) is a surgically implanted neuroprosthesis that provides a person with sensorineural hearing loss a modified sense of sound. CI bypasses the normal acoustic hearing process to replace it with electric signals which directly stimulate the auditory nerve. A person with a cochlear implant receiving intensive auditory training may learn to interpret those signals as sound and speech. However, one-third of deaf children do not develop language if they are on a CI program alone and have no sign language input.
The implant has two main components. The outside component is generally worn behind the ear, but could also be attached to clothing, for example, in young children. This component, the sound processor, contains microphones, electronics that include digital signal processor (DSP) chips, battery, and a coil that transmits a signal to the implant across the skin. The inside component, the actual implant, has a coil to receive signals, electronics, and an array of electrodes which is placed into the cochlea, which stimulate the cochlear nerve.
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