Bone Conducton Hearing Aid Technology – An Introduction
Bone conduction implant technology appears to be the future of hearing loss correction. Although it was called infeasible not even a decade ago by individuals in the research community, recent developments have patients, doctors, and government committees turning their head to see what is going to happen next. It is being used in limited circumstances in the testing phase, and remains a growing form of tech. Since it is being heralded as the future of hearing loss implants, it is important to know the capabilities of the bone conduction implant.
The hearing aid implants that are already being used by people with hearing loss are similar in some ways to the new implant. They are typically mounted to the skull with a titanium screw, and have a piece which protrudes through the skin. It takes sound from the environment and amplifies it, allowing for a greater deal of sound to be heard by the wearer. However, it also comes with a few potential drawbacks such as the screw coming loose or a skin infection developing. These concerns are alleviated by the BCI because it does not use a screw to mount to the underside of the bone in the skull and has a much lower incidence of infection due to its abutment. However, these are only a few of the benefits offered by BCIs.
The implant is constructed of three pieces, each of which has a specific function in bone conduction. The outermost piece is called the sound processor which has the task of collection sound from the environment. Once it takes sound in, it transfers it to the abutment which protrudes through the skin and translates the sound to an impulse. The sound impulse travels along the titanium implant and along the skull, eventually coming back into the inner ear area. This allows sound to circumvent the middle ear where thousands of cases of hearing loss originate. Although it was designed originally for people with total hearing loss, it can also be used to help people who have only lost hearing in a single ear. The sound is channeled across the skull and into the ear that has normal levels of hearing, allowing sound from the other side of the head to be heard.
Being that BCIs are still in the development phase and need to undergo rigorous testing before they ever see a market, scientists and investors are both optimistic about the future. People from all over the globe are willing to enter into the human trials, which will help BCIs gain fast approval from oversight agencies. They are expected be available for usage sometime during 2015.