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Hearing and deafness

Coch implant hearing deafnessIn a hearing ear, sound waves travel along the ear canal (1) and bounce against the eardrum. This causes the eardrum and the chain of tiny bones (malleus, incus and stapes) (2&3) to vibrate slightly. These vibrations ripple through the fluid in the inner ear or cochlea (4), stimulating thousands of tiny hair cells. This triggers an electrical response, which is sent up the hearing nerve (auditory nerve) (5)to the brain, and sound is heard.

The tiny hair cells are essential. In people with a severe or profound hearing loss, the hair cells may be damaged or absent, so the sound signal cannot reach the nerve of hearing. The cochlear implant has the same role as the hair cells. It sends an electrical message directly to the hearing nerve and so to the brain.