Cochlear Implants May Improve

AUGUSTA, Ga., July 1 (UPI) — U.S. scientists are testing an upgraded version of the cochlear implant — a device that provides a sense of sound to the deaf or severely hard of hearing.

Radio personality Rush Limbaugh has raised awareness of cochlear implants but he has also pointed out how the noise of a busy restaurant can be maddening and that he can hear sound but nothing that can be called music.

Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia in Atlanta propose adding more electrodes to conventional cochlear implant, as well as a thinner, more flexible wire — called the thin film array — that can be placed by the surgeon further into the inner ear.

“We try to get it as far into the center of the cochlea, where the nerves are bundled, as possible — the idea being that the more electrodes on the nerves, the better the sound,” Dr. Brian McKinnon says in a statement.

McKinnon’s colleague Dr. Kenneth Iverson has been testing the device and says there could be a several-fold improvement of the sound’s resolution.

“For the patient, it would be like the difference between hearing a Bach concerto played by a music box versus a quartet,” he said.

The researchers are scheduled to present their findings in Stockholm at the 11th International Conference on Cochlear Implants and Other Auditory Implantable Technology.

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