Essay: Impact of Cochlear Implants

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  • Published on: February 6, 2019
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  • Impact of Cochlear Implants
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[OPENING STATEMENT] A Cochlear Implant (CI) is a device that is surgically implanted into a patient’s cochlea, which is stimulated to restore hearing. This electronic medical device does the work of damaged parts of the cochlea to provide sound signals to the brains of patients with moderate to profound hearing loss [Cochlear Source]. Children as young as 12 months old and adults are eligible to receive CIs if they fit a certain criteria describing profound hearing loss (CITE). [EXPAND] The purpose of the cochlear implant is to give individuals the sensation of hearing, but how does this given sense of hearing impact the individual in other ways? More importantly, what is the interaction between psychological health and cochlear implants? There are both positive and negative outcomes of cochlear implants, however the positive outcome outweigh the negatives, thus cochlear implants provide both biological and psychological benefits to individuals, benefits to and from society, and a greater acceptance in the community. [RESTRUCTURE THESIS?]
Individual Impacts of Cochlear Implants
The CI’s target is to allow individuals to hear better than they could with a hearing aid or without [CITE]. By providing hearing, individuals can experience the noisy environment and reconnect with missed sounds that they could not hear before. However, CIs do not work for everyone, and can come with some downfalls that hinder the individual’s experience and growth. Although the hearing aspect is the main outcome that results from implantation, the CI provides biological and psychological impacts to the individual. [EXPAND]
Biological Impacts on the Individual
In the biological aspect, the implant converts digitally coded sounds into electrical impulses and sends them along the electrode array placed in the cochlea. These electrodes stimulate the hearing nerve, thus being interpreted as sound in the brain [SOURCE]. Despite the fact that this process is the same for every cochlear implant user, the benefit of cochlear implants is often different for different individuals. This difference can be due to multiple factors such as when the individual received the implant, severity of hearing loss, and how long the individual has had hearing loss prior to receiving the implant [SOURCE].
One main difference that has varying impacts on the individual is when the individual received the implant. Evidence exists such that children as young as 12 months are safely receiving cochlear implant surgery [SOURCE]. Furthermore, studies indicate that having implants inserted at a younger age leads to more benefits for deaf children, including increased language ability and listening abilities (EARLY IMPLANTATION SOURCE). This study also found that children implanted in infancy did better in language development than their peers who received implants later and approached the language development skills of normal hearing children of the same age. [TRANSITION]. In older adults with cochlear implants, specifically those who had lost their hearing after already having lingual skills, a large significant increase in speech perception was found (CI OLDER ADULTS SOURCE). [CLOSING STATEMENT]
Another factor that influences the efficiency of cochlear implants in individuals is the length of hearing loss the individual had prior to receiving the implant. Chute & Nevins (2002) found that children with a short duration of profound deafness tend to perform better with cochlear implants than children with a long duration of profound deafness. In addition, post-lingual deafness individuals include those who became deaf after the acquisition of speech and language, whereas pre-lingual deafness children include those who were born deaf or lost their hearing prior to acquiring speech and language (SOURCE?). In the long term, both pre-lingual and post-lingual children are able to develop speech perception skills, however studies have found that post-lingual children show substantial early developments in speech perception, with most showing improvements as early as 6 months after implantation, compared to at least 24 months for pre-lingual children (POSTLINGUALCI SOURCE).
Psychological Impacts on the Individual
Having a cochlear implant is a life-changing experience; going from profound hearing loss to being able to hear is a big change on its own, however there is a lot more that happens to the individual than just hearing. The process leading up to the surgery can be stressful, and the individual’s point of view, expectations, and type of support system can have an impact on the success one has with the implant (PSYCHOSOCIAL IMPACTS SOURCE). Fortunately, once the individual is able to get past the surgery and live life with the cochlear implant, the biological benefits outlined earlier also provide psychological benefits to the individual.
(EARLY IMPLANTATION PPL), as well as (CI OLDER ADULTS SOURCE) found that improved hearing and listening abilities resulted in a significant increase in the quality of life of cochlear implant users. An interesting finding by (CI OLDER ADULTS SOURCE) was that the larger the hearing benefit, the larger the increase in quality of life. The overall conclusion of this study was that cochlear implants in adults was associated with an improved health and emotional health attributes. (EXPAND?)
Quality of life plays a large role in one’s perception of the world around them, as well as life events and experiences. Deaf and hard of hearing individuals have lower self-esteem and problems in self-confidence, peer and family relations, and academics than normal hearing children. This is said to be because of the communication barriers between themselves and others (Loeb & Sarigiani, 1986). In addition, Capelli, Daniels, Durieux-Smith, McGrath and Neuss (1995) found that children with hearing impairments feel more rejected by their peers than normal hearing children while younger children feel less socially accepted than older children. This has drastic effects on depression and anxiety in these hearing impaired individuals. With the cochlear implants, studies have found a statistically significant improvement in the quality of life in hearing impaired individuals, with a significant reduction in degree of depression and anxiety (CIQUALITYOFLIFE SOURCE). (CONCLUDE THIS)
Societal Impacts of Cochlear Implants
Not only does the cochlear implant provide hearing for individuals, but also as a result of this hearing, their ability to function in school, work, and day-to-day life improves. This improvement comes as the communication barriers are broken down and CI users can have a close-to-normal lifestyle. In multiple studies, self-esteem issues and social anxiety were prevalent in hearing impaired children (SOCIOEMOTIONAL IMPACT SOURCE) (Capelli, Daniels, Durieux-Smith, McGrath & Neuss, 1995) (Loeb & Sarigiani, 1986). When cochlear implants were introduced, the self-esteem and anxiety significantly improved, resulting in higher involvement in social activities (CIQUALITYOFLIFE SOURCE).
The day-to-day life of a CI user is no different than a regular individuals’, however much more interactive in a hearing world than a hearing impaired individual. A study found that CI users gained a positive outlook after receiving an implant; they reported that they were able to participate more in conversations, had more vocational prospects, which resulted in a decrease in feeling lonely, depressed, and socially isolated (CIIN ADULTS AND CHILDREN SOURCE FROM 1995). From this study, the deviance from a normal lifestyle came from maintenance of the implant, difficulty hearing with background noise, and unrealistic expectations of the cochlear implant set by the user and their family and friends. (EXPAND MORE ON DAY-TO-DAY STUFF) (ADD CIQUALITY OF LIFE SOURCE STUFF).
CI’s play a crucial role in the success of individuals in educational and career settings; by being able to rely on hearing for (KEEP GOING ON EDUCATIONAL AND CAREER SETTINGS) (GO MORE ON THE LAST QUESTION)
Acceptance of Cochlear Implants in Society
Since the invention of the cochlear implant, both the deaf and hearing communities have constantly debated over whether this device has developed or deteriorated the deaf culture. This debate argues the foundation of moral values surrounding the implantation of cochlear implants within deaf or hard of hearing individuals. Several factors such as media influence and society perspectives, parent’s choices, and identity come into play when looking at the pros and cons of cochlear implants and how society views this invention.
Media Influence and Society Perspectives
A documentary, The Sound and Fury, highlighted the heated controversy between two families and their decision on their deaf child receiving a cochlear implant. In this documentary, the main focus of the debate was the loss of deaf culture and how the cochlear implant strips the children from their deaf identity. In the end of this documentary, one family decided to move forward with the cochlear implantation, and the other did not. However, in a sequel documentary, The Sound and Fury: 6 Years Later, the one family that opted out at the time, later received the implants.
In relation, a study found that parents of deaf children, who have never met a deaf adult, do not know how to adapt to hearing loss, tend to misinterpret media messages about cochlear implants in literature

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