Middle ear implants
A middle ear implant is a more recent hearing implant, offering an alternative to conventional hearing aids. It may be considered for those who suffer with earmould allergies, skin problems in their ears, outer ear infections, narrow, collapsed or closed ear canals, or malformed ears.
It can also provide (for mixed or conductive hearing losses) an alternative to a bone anchored hearing aid for those with any of the above ear problems who also have healing issues, dexterity problems, or those who might find difficulty in keeping a bone anchored hearing aid clean.
Image: Thanks to MED-EL
How does a middle ear implant work?
An middle ear implant has two parts: an external part (the ‘processor’) and the surgically implanted internal part. The processor transmits sound to the internal part of the hearing implant. This consists of a receiver just below the skin to pick up the sound from the processor, together with the implant, which is attached to one of the bones in the middle ear, or attached near to the membrane window of the cochlea. The implant works by directly moving the bones of the middle ear, or by vibrating the membrane window of the cochlea.
In either case, it is designed to amplify sounds by adding extra movement into the natural hearing pathway. The middle ear implant relies on a working cochlea and hearing nerve.
Image: Thanks to MED-EL
Who can be considered for a middle ear implant?
A middle ear implant may be considered when a conventional hearing aid cannot be worn, or does not give effective benefit.
What can I expect from a middle ear implant?
Middle ear implants offer amplification without an ear mould in the ear. This makes them more comfortable if you experience discomfort or infections in your ear. Some people also report that they have a more natural sound than conventional hearing aids for the same reason. They do not restore your hearing to normal, but can make managing in everyday situations easier.
The audio processor of a middle ear system can be connected to external devices via Bluetooth or telecoil. This enables the signal from your mobile phone, MP3 player, FM system or assistive listening device to be transmitted wirelessly to the audio processor with no loss of sound quality.
How a middle ear implant works video
Thanks to MED-EL
Further information about middle ear implants
Please visit MED-EL’s website.
I have been deaf in one ear for over thirty years. During those years I did not consider myself disabled as I had good hearing in my second ear and was able to live a fairly normal life. My deafness was caused by Meniere’s disease and in those days my main concern – and that of my consultants, was to prevent the attacks as much as possible. As a young mother with three children I led a busy and active life. I was so grateful that the insertion of grommets into my ear drum did help restrict the attacks.
I became bilaterally deaf with Meniere’s disease in 2007 and from the day of my first attack became a deaf and disabled person. Not only did I have to learn how to live in silence, but there seemed to be no future for me. I could not wear hearing aids and there seemed to be no alternative solutions for me. I became a depressive recluse and didn’t interact with anyone but my husband because I simply could not hear anything.
In 2013 I met a consultant who offered me a future. He suggested the VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE middle ear implant may be the answer for me. After lengthy tests and applications for funding I was implanted in August 2013. There was no support from anybody prior to the implant. My only point of contact was my implant team who I saw at appointments. HearPeers was not up and running at that time. That was the most difficult thing for me to deal with, the solitary isolation and having nowhere to turn to for help or just talk things out. The implant has totally turned my life around for the better from a very bad place.
From living a solitary lifestyle, unable to communicate, deep in depression I have become an interactive person again enjoying so many things I missed. The drop of water from a tap can sound like a symphony. Imagine then what joy it is for me to hear my children’s and grandchildren’s’ voices again. Believe me when I tell you that I experience the miracle of hearing every time I put my audio processor on.
Candidates for a hearing implant, new patients, and even their families can get in touch with me on the HearPeers website. As a HearPeers Mentor I am here for anyone who contacts me to offer the very important personal support which was not available to me. I always emphasise that I am not a medical professional, and all medical and technical advice must come from the medical team looking after them.