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Advantages and Disadvantages of Cochlear Implant

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                                   Cochlear implant

Cochlear implant is one undoubtedly one of the greatest inventions designed to benefit the deaf community. A cochlear implant is a device implanted internally behind a deaf persons ear with an external microphone, and is designed to provide artificial sounds to people who have nerve deafness in both ears and show no ability to understand speech through hearing aids. In other vein, a cochlear implant is an electronic device that restores hearing for people anywhere from hard of hearing to the profoundly deaf.

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The surgeon puts the electrode array inside the inner ear and than inside the cochlea. The implant works by a device outside the ear, which rests on the skin behind the ear. It is held upright by a magnet and is also connected by a lead to a sound professor.

A research into the history of cochlear implant shows that since its development in the 60s, more than 10,000 people worldwide have been implanted with this device.

Although this innovation sounds to be a perfect aid to deafness, a lot of controversy still exists about the cochlear implant. Below are many advantages and disadvantages about the implant. The cochlear implant has allowed many deaf people to live out ‘hearing lives’.

 During the 1960�s, more primitive implants allowed for partial hearing, the percentage of words that could be understood without lip reading was about 12%, but with modern technology, that number has risen to about 80%, making conversations with a deaf person and a hearing person possible through speech without the use of sign language.

Thus, Deaf people who have experienced hearing and language skills previously, benefit much more from the implant because they do not have to learn new sounds or words.

Despite the fact that this technological masterpiece can benefit deaf people greatly, there are still many disadvantages. Of the 15 million people in the U.S. with significant hearing loss, less than 1% are potential candidates the cochlear implant. There are no standardized criteria for accepting or rejecting a candidate, but they often need to meet audiological, medical, and psychological criteria.

It must also be noted that there is a high degree of risk associated with cochlear implant. This is because the anatomical location is close to the brain, therefore the risks are higher. Furthermore, even though the cochlear implant may be suitable for more deaf people, there is one factor that prohibits them from receiving one: Price. The price of performing a cochlear implant is too high that only the rich are able to afford one. Each cochlear implant costs over $25,000 and comes with no guarantees.

At this juncture, it is pertinent to take a look at what happens when an implant has been performed. First, you are given an injection to make you fall asleep. Once you’re asleep the hair behind your ear is shaved off. Then the operation begins and it usually lasts from 2-4 hours. The doctor cuts behind your ear and puts the implant into the bone right there. Next he places an electrical array that curls inside your cochlea. When you wake up you are sent home for a few days to rest.  After you are all rested you go to an audiologist to get the sound processor programmed.

A sound processor allows you to ear when you have a cochlear implant and when it’s not in, you won’t hear anything. Once the sound professor is programmed, you would be able to hear. One interesting thing to take note about cochlear implant is that it uses a much different method to enable a person to hear opposed to a normal hearing ear. The cochlear implant has five parts; a microphone, sound processor, head piece, implant and hearing nerve.

The function of the microphone is to capture sound from the outside environment. A sound processor than selects and arranges all the sounds captured from the microphone.  The headpiece sends the signal through the skin and to the implant to pick up. Then the implant picks up the sound and sends it through the lead and to the electrode array. Finally, the sound is picked up by the hearing nerve and the message is sent to the brain.

When a person with normal hearing hears the sound travels along the ear then bounces against the ear drum. The eardrum, the bones inside, and the cochlea vibrate and move thousands of tiny hairs inside the ear. When these hairs move an electrical response occurs. This electrical response goes to the hearing nerve and then it is send to the brain.

As already discussed above, Cochlear implants cost much more then a hearing aid. Insurance companies don’t cover the cost of hearing aids however; most companies do cover the cost of getting a cochlear implant.  Figuring out the average price of a cochlear implant includes evaluation, the implant itself, surgery and rehabilitation. The total cost including these four things is $40,000.00.

Recently, a statistical research has shown that Cochlear implants are becoming more and more popular now. Even babies as young as 12 months are receiving a cochlear implant. For hearing parents it’s more convenient to have their child get a cochlear implant rather then to learn sign language. Hearing parents usually just look for the simple way out because they don’t want to have a child who is “different.” Ironically however, most deaf people are against cochlear implants and hold strong views upon it. If someone in the deaf culture decides to get a cochlear implant they are most likely shunned from the culture. Deaf don’t see anything wrong with them and don’t understand why some people would want to go against their culture and into the hearing culture. Deaf also don’t think that a baby should be implanted with a Cochlear implant. Most children who get implanted don’t learn ASL to communicate in the deaf world and don’t learn about their culture.

A recent research has revealed that most Infants born in a hospital go through a newborn infancy screening to determine if they have a hearing loss. Some children are identified early in infancy to detect a hearing loss while other children are identified when they are a little older. After being identified as having a hearing loss, the parents of the infant or child must make important life changing decisions for the child. Therefore, a cochlear implant is one of the options parents have for their child and this has always been a controversial procedure among the deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States.

One of the reasons why so many parents choosing a cochlear implant for their child is because hearing parents view the cochlear implant as a cure for deafness. On the other hand, deaf advocates view the cochlear implant as a destruction of the Deaf culture and are in opposition of the implant because of ethical reasons as well as the dangers the surgery presents. Although the surgery and implantation of the cochlear device may seem like a miracle cure for deafness there are many ethical issues that are raised by the deaf community and by advocates of the deaf. Some of these ethical issues have been discussed above.

There are a handful of moral problems associated with the use of cochlear implant technology to treat hearing loss in prelingually deaf patients. According to Crouch, there are major problems with the use of cochlear implants in prelingually deaf patients. He argues that these children are better off without cochlear implants because when given one, the efforts to learn oral language will hinder his or her contact to and commitment with the Deaf community. He stated further that without cochlear implants, deaf children would not be condemned to a life of meaningless silence. Also, cochlear implants deprive deaf patients of a community of peers; a community with rich history, language, and values.

With due respect to the above renowned author, I have a contrary view. I believe that the benefits associated with the use of cochlear implants overshadow the burdens of this medical advance. I favor any medical procedure with the most possibility of success (as long as there are no significant risks to the child’s health), to give hearing to prelingually deaf children, helping the child to learn an oral language that then makes it easier to assimilate into the mainstream hearing culture, because being hearing is better than being deaf.

The above author is mistaken when he says that restoring hearing makes these children disabled because being able to hear is a normal function that allows you to realize and act upon your goals and desires. In my own view, I think any procedure that can help prelingually deaf children to acquire speech, language, developmental, and social skills should be utilized to its highest potential, because with these skills, it is significantly easier to assimilate into the hearing culture.

When hearing parents find out that their child is deaf, they immediately think that he or she is different, disabled, and abnormal, so they want to fix this difference (Chaikof 17-31). Therefore, there shouldn’t be a moral problem associated with treating hearing loss with cochlear implants, since it is a device that can correct deafness. Cochlear implants can radically change the future for most hearing-impaired children, bringing them into the 21st century as productive citizens in the hearing community.

The child, his or her family, and society benefit from a successful implanted patient.  So, I support any medical procedure that has the highest possibility of success to cure deafness.  Cochlear implantation is not a form of cultural genocide, but rather a solution to child deafness. It’s not surprising that another erudite author supports my view on .the need for a cochlear implant for those with hearing disabilities. According to Daniels, society has a duty to maintain health so that the citizens can take advantage of every opportunity available.

He therefore agrees with any treatment that increases ranges of opportunity to restore equality of opportunity, and society should even provide it for the patient because it is medically necessary. According to him, Cochlear implants can presumably correct deafness, bringing a patient to normal function, a biological fact that grounds health care judgments.

One thing that critics of cochlear implant do not know is that the surgery not only benefits the child and his or her family benefits the patient alone, it benefits the society in general. By this is meant that such elimination of hearing loss makes the patient to be more productive and thereby capable of contributing immensely to the social and economic growth of the society.

In conclusion, the cochlear implant has given many deaf people the priceless gift of hearing, but this may not be for everyone. Some deaf people may not be ready for this implant because it will change their life drastically; they may not be ready to go from the deaf world to the hearing world which offers more opportunities for them.


1.        Crouch, Robert. Letting the Deaf be Deaf Reconsidering the Use of Cochlear Implants in Prelingually Deaf Children. 1997.

2.        Schartz, Sue. Choices in Deafness: A Parents? Guide to Communication Options. 2nd edition. MD Woodbine : Bethesda, 1996.

3.        Chaikof, Melissa. English acquisition of children with cochlear implants.

4.        Estabrooks, Warren. Cochlear Implants for Kids. Washington: Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf, 1998.

5.        Pope, Anne. Hear: Solutions, Skills, and Sources for people with a hearing loss. Washington: DK Publishing, 1997.

6.        “Cochlear Implants.” 21 April. 2008 <http://www.entnet.org/healthinfo/ears/chchlear-implant.cfm>.

7.        “Cochlear Hearing Implants Cost-effective-Study.” 13 Nov. 2007 <http://archives.cnn.com>.

8.        “Cochlear Implants.” 27 Oct. 2007 <http://www.nidcd.nih.gov>.


Cite this Advantages and Disadvantages of Cochlear Implant

Advantages and Disadvantages of Cochlear Implant. (2016, Sep 24). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/cochlear-implant-essay/

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