Cochlear (inner ear) implantation
Cochlear implants are one of the major success stories in hearing and have transformed the lives of over 200,000 deaf individuals worldwide. In profoundly deaf individuals, cochlear implants can restore the ability to understand speech in a quiet listening environment. In children who are born profoundly deaf, cochlear implants have the capacity to facilitate the acquisition of spoken language. However, cochlear implants do not restore ‘normal’ hearing: users of cochlear implants often experience difficulty with understanding speech in noisy environments, particularly if the background noise includes irrelevant speech.
This link takes you to the Nottingham Auditory Implant Programme's website where there are 5 short videos which give some really useful information about cochlear implants: http://www.nuh.nhs.uk/our-services/services/nottingham-auditory-implant-programme/cochlear-implants-a-patient-guide/
Currently, our research examines the benefits of cochlear implantation in individuals who have acquired a profound deafness in one ear but still have access to some residual hearing in the other ear. Residual hearing can provide cues that are important for the perception of pitch, for spatial hearing, and for listening to speech in noisy environments. There is a need to evaluate the extent to which acoustic information from the ear with residual hearing can be combined with information from a cochlear implant. Our research aims to provide clinicians with recommendations for the effective integration of acoustical and electrical stimulation.
To this end, we are leading the first UK clinical trial examining the effectiveness of cochlear implantation in individuals with a single-sided deafness. We will study the changes in their listening abilities and in their quality of life to determine whether cochlear implantation may be a potential treatment for these patients who have very well-preserved hearing in their non-impaired ear.
We are also examining the potential benefits of combining electric hearing from a cochlear implant with an acoustic hearing aid in patients who have very little remaining hearing in their non-implanted ear. Most patients who currently receive a cochlear implant on the NHS have a severe hearing loss in both ears but some still choose to use a hearing aid with their implant. We are therefore conducting research to see whether and how these patients can benefit from using a hearing aid in their non-implanted ear, and if so, how we should set up their hearing aid to work best with their implant.
The treatment of tinnitus has also been identified as a priority in patients who have a severe-to-profound hearing loss. Most patients who are eligible to receive a cochlear implantation report experiencing tinnitus. However, little is known about whether tinnitus continues to be a problem in cochlear implant users in the UK. We are conducting research to understand how tinnitus affect cochlear implant users and what kind of treatments might be suitable to help them.