Cochlear Implant Specialist Singapore

Cochlear Implant – What It Is & How It Works?

Cochlear implants are revolutionary hearing devices, surgically implanted into the inner ear, designed to restore the gift of sound to those with severe hearing impairment. Unlike traditional hearing aids, these implants do not merely amplify sound.

They consist of two main parts: an internal component and an external sound processor.

  1. The internal component, nestled within the inner ear (cochlea), comprises a receiver-stimulator unit and an electrode.
  2. The external sound processor, attached to the skin of the head using a magnet, works in harmony with the internal component. It captures, processes, and transmits sound to the receiver-stimulator unit, which then generates electrical signals. These signals are sent via the electrode to stimulate the hearing nerve directly and the nerve will carry these signals to the brain.

The beauty of this technology lies in its ability to bypass the cochlea – the hearing organ at the heart of hearing loss. In many conditions leading to significant hearing loss, the sensory hair cells within the cochlea are irreversibly damaged.

However, in most of these cases, the hearing nerve remains intact and functional. This makes cochlear implants a highly effective solution for restoring hearing, even when hearing aids are no longer effective.

Cochlear implants offer hope to those suffering from the silence of hearing loss.

Benefits of Cochlear Implants?

Imagine a world where the symphony of life becomes a muted whisper, or worse – a deafening silence. This is the reality for those with severe hearing loss, where even the most advanced hearing aids fall short in providing the clarity and loudness needed for everyday hearing situations.

But what if there was a solution that could bridge this gap? Enter the realm of cochlear implants, which serve as a lifeline for individuals grappling with severe hearing loss, a group for whom traditional hearing aids offer limited benefits.

The root of their struggle often lies in the irreversible damage, degeneration, or death of cochlear hair cells. Given that hearing aids primarily function through amplification, they (regardless of their power or sophistication) fall short for those lacking sufficient inherent or residual hearing (hearing reserve).

This is where cochlear implants are critical, acting as a substitute for the cochlea and directly stimulating the hearing nerve to restore hearing. The transformative impact of these implants extends beyond the realm of sound. Recipients find renewed confidence in navigating auditory environments and social interactions, fostering a deeper engagement with their surroundings.

Ultimately, cochlear implants not only restore hearing but also significantly enhance the quality of life for recipients.

Do Cochlear Implants Work for Everyone?

While cochlear implants can be a game-changer for many, it’s important to note that they may not be the silver bullet for everyone. Here are some scenarios where the outcomes after cochlear implantation might not be as promising:

  1. Adults born with minimal or no hearing: These individuals, who have never experienced sound or mastered language, may face challenges.
  2. Lack of motivation: Patients who are not driven to hear may not reap the full benefits of cochlear implants.
  3. Absence of hearing nerve or cochlea: Individuals born without these crucial components may not be suitable candidates.
  4. Damage to the hearing nerve: This could be due to factors such as post-surgery complications involving the hearing nerve.
  5. Long-standing hearing loss: Patients who have experienced prolonged hearing loss, neglected medical attention, and have never used hearing aids may face poorer outcomes.
  6. Abnormal cochlear anatomy: Diseases of the ear that result in an abnormal cochlear structure could also limit the effectiveness of cochlear implants.

It’s crucial to have realistic expectations and understand that while cochlear implants can significantly improve hearing, they may not work optimally in all cases.

Nevertheless, one never know if cochlear implants are suitable for you without in-depth discussion with an experienced Ear surgeon or Audiologist. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

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Who is a Good Candidate for Cochlear Implant Surgery?

Identifying the Ideal Candidate for Cochlear Implant Surgery

The journey to cochlear implant surgery is a personal one, and the ideal candidate is as unique as their hearing journey. Here are some characteristics that may indicate a good fit for this transformative procedure:

Remember, every individual is unique, and these are general guidelines. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

What To Expect Before, During & After Cochlear Implant Surgery?

Cochlear implant surgery is a transformative journey that begins long before the operation itself. Here’s what to expect at each stage:

  • Diagnosis and Evaluation: An experienced Ear surgeon will establish the correct diagnosis and indication for surgery. This involves a thorough history and physical examination to determine the time course of hearing loss, risk factors, and eligibility for a cochlear implant.
  • Specialized Tests: Audiometry and speech discrimination tests are performed for an advanced evaluation of the patient’s condition and suitability for cochlear implant surgery. This is usually undertaken by an experienced Audiologist who will also be the primary audiologist in-charge of your post-operative rehabilitation care.
  • In-depth Discussion: The surgeon, along with the audiologist and speech therapist, will have an in-depth discussion with the patient and their family about the journey of receiving a cochlear implant. This will involve managing expectations and settings goals in a patient-centred model with evidenced-based best practices.
  • CT scan: A computer tomography (CT) scan will be done to evaluate the inner ear structure and determine the surgical approach.
  • The surgery involves placing the internal component of the cochlear implant into the cochlea. This is done under general anaesthesia and typically takes a few hours.
  • Recovery: Patients typically undergo cochlear implant surgery as a Day Surgery procedure. Some might choose to stay overnight in the hospital to rest. Full recovery from the surgery usually takes one to two weeks.
  • Activation: The cochlear implant is typically activated about 4-6 weeks after surgery. This involves a switch-on of the external sound processor, where the Audiologists will use advanced techniques to map sound levels to the threshold of your hearing nerves.
  • Rehabilitation: Post-activation, patients work with audiologists and speech therapists to learn or relearn how to hear and interpret the signals from the implant.

How To Select The Best Cochlear Implant Surgeon In Singapore?

Choosing the Right Cochlear Implant Surgeon in Singapore

Selecting the best cochlear implant surgeon is not just about the surgeon’s expertise, but also about the strength of the multidisciplinary team they work with, which includes audiologists and speech therapists. Here are some key considerations:

  1. Professional Experience: Look at the combined experience of the team. The best outcomes often come from teams that have worked together extensively.
  2. Specialization: Not all ENT surgeons specialize in otology (ear). Ensure the ENT doctor you choose has this specific expertise.
  3. Team Approach: A good surgeon builds trusting relationships with other healthcare professionals and doesn’t work in isolation.
  4. Early Engagement: Reach out to different members of the team early on. This can help manage your expectations of rehabilitation and give you a sense of the team’s professional experience.
  5. Credible Partnerships: Look for a surgeon who is partnered with a credible audiologist. Surgeons who work with outsourced partners may provide less consistent follow-up care.
  6. Consistency: This is key to your rehabilitation journey after cochlear implantation. The best teams provide consistent, high-quality care.

Remember, not every ENT surgeon is trained to do cochlear implants. It’s important to do your research and choose a surgeon and team that you feel comfortable with and trust. Your journey to restore hearing is a team effort, and choosing the right team is the first step.

Cochlear Implant Surgeon Singapore

Cochlear Implant Clinic: What To Expect On Your 1st Visit

Your First Visit to the Cochlear Implant Clinic after implantation: The Switch-On Experience

Stepping into the cochlear implant clinic for your switch-on day, you might feel a blend of anticipation and apprehension. This significant milestone typically takes place 4 to 6 weeks post-surgery and marks the beginning of a new auditory journey.

A dedicated Audiologist will be at your side, mapping the electrical signals in the implant to align with your neural thresholds and comfort levels. This process will enable you to start detecting sounds. However, brace yourself for an unexpected auditory experience – the initial sounds may seem robotic and mechanical. This is normal.

Cochlear Implant Clinic Singapore

But fear not, as the brain is a remarkable organ. Over time, it will adapt and learn to interpret these new auditory signals. Imagine stepping into a language course for the first time. The unfamiliar and eccentric sounds may leave you feeling lost, but with consistent effort and practice, comprehension gradually improves.

Persistence is key in this journey. Continue working on the rehabilitation tasks and maintain regular appointments with your Audiologist and Auditory-Verbal Therapist to work towards your goals. Just as mastering the basics of a new language requires time and dedication, expect a period of six to eight months for your brain to make sense of the new sounds.

Remember, every step forward, no matter how small, is progress in your journey towards improved hearing and quality of life.

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Cochlear Implant Specialist Singapore

Why Choose Our Cochlear Implant Specialist?

Why Should You Opt for Our Cochlear Implant Specialist in Singapore?
Our team stands at the forefront of cochlear implantation, backed by a robust multi-disciplinary ensemble of highly skilled Audiologists and Speech Therapists. Our ear surgeon is a widely acclaimed Senior Consultant and has successfully implanted hundreds of patients, reflecting our commitment to excellence.

We are staunch advocates of evidence-based clinical practice, translating the latest research into our daily operations and embracing innovation at every step. Our team members are more than just healthcare professionals; they are academics with a wealth of experience in research, education, and innovation.

We firmly believe that you will be in safe hands with us. Our pride lies in our collaborative multi-disciplinary approach, anchored on proven outcomes. You will receive comprehensive care that extends beyond surgery.

Post-operative follow-up care and rehabilitation are crucial to the success of cochlear implantation. This can only be achieved with a synergistic team of healthcare professionals dedicated to your journey towards improved hearing.

FAQs

While you will start detecting sounds immediately after cochlear implantation, these sounds will not be instantly intelligible. You’ll need to work with your rehabilitation therapists, including the Audiologist and Auditory Verbal Therapist, to optimize your access to sound and also to awaken and retrain your brain to interpret it.

Several factors can influence the outcomes of a cochlear implant, including the age at implantation, duration of deafness, surgeon’s experience and technique, anatomy of the cochlea, any other medical comorbidities, motivation to use the device, attendance at therapy, and self-efficacy at rehabilitation tasks. It is important to understand these factors while considering a cochlear implant. Hence, pre-implant counselling is crucial and should be done with an experienced Audiologist and/or ear surgeon.

Rehabilitation post-surgery is crucial for the best outcome. It typically lasts up to six months to a year. However, some patients do so well that they achieve optimal outcomes way before six months. A cohesive team comprising the Surgeon, Audiologist, and Auditory-Verbal Therapist will closely follow up with you on your rehabilitation journey. Ideally, these team members should have worked closely together before and hence will be able to harmonize well to optimize your success with hearing rehabilitation.

A cochlear implant is an ear surgery, not a brain surgery. An experienced otologist (ear surgeon), not a neurosurgeon, performs this surgical procedure. The surgeon places a tiny implant, small enough to fit into your palm, into your inner ear (cochlea). Hearing remains the only sense of the five senses that can be restored by a cochlear implant (prosthetic device) even if you are “deaf”.

Cochlear implant surgery is very safe. It is similar to a routine ear surgery but requires an experience implant surgeon to place the electrode into the inner ear to restore hearing. It is performed with a microscope and typically last 2 to 2.5 hours.

Complications are very rare. Speak to an experienced ear surgeon to know more about potential complications and your concerns that are unique to each patient.

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