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A cochlear implant uses a microphone, a speech processor, a transmitter and receiver, and an electrode array. The electrode array collects impulses from the stimulator and sends them to different regions of the auditory nerve. These four parts are contained in two pieces. One of the pieces rides behind the ear and the other is surgically implanted under the skin. Cochlear implants are good for a person who is profoundly deaf or is severely hard of hearing.
The implant does not restore normal hearing, but allows a person who is deaf or severely hard of hearing to hear a representation of sounds in the environment. Unlike hearing aids, the cochlear implant does not modify sounds. The cochlear implant bypasses the damaged portion of the ear and directly stimulates the auditory nerve. The signals are sent to the brain by the auditory nerve and the brain recognizes the signals as sounds.
Cochlear implants may be used for both children and adults. Most children who receive the implants are between two and six years of age. When a person is fitted with a cochlear implant, she or he must go through therapy to learn or relearn how to hear. It will take time and practice to learn or relearn how to interpret the sounds being sent to the brain.