I owe a post that discusses EAS (electrical acoustic stimulation) and my CI journey so far. When I discussed my reasons for visiting UNC Chapel Hill (almost 4 hours from home) with the surgeon there we agreed that since I came that far seeking information about “hearing preservation” that we should go that route. By that point I wasn’t sure I really cared much about preserving hearing in my worse (right) ear, I just knew I wanted to benefit from a CI. I was surprised that the fact that I did not qualify for the MedEl hybrid CI trial didn’t mean we couldn’t try for hearing preservation and electric-acoustic stimulation as the end result.
How does that work? Well aparently MedEl has another electrode that is already FDA approved that allows a chance for hearing to be preserved. I’d get that electrode with their normal CI implant and normal processor. Then if a new hearing test showed that I still had usable low-frequency hearing I could wear a hearing aid too. So if that happens I may be in the market for an in the ear hearing aid. In the mean time I think I can wear the MedEl ’sports’ processor that pins to your shoulder along with my current BTE.
This article has a good summary of EAS. http://www.asha.org/about/publications/
So is this other electrode going to prohibit from full use of the CI? Probably not really. It just isn’t the extra long electrode that MedEl normally uses.
Hearing preservation with a cochlear implant is also possible with a conventional long electrode array. It had been assumed that any residual hearing in the implanted ear would be sacrificed due to surgical trauma; however, in some instances, this is no longer the case. Increasingly skilled surgeons employing soft surgical techniques—which may include a smaller cochleostomy or round window insertion and more careful electrode insertion—with thinner electrode arrays and/or perimodiolar electrodes (which also may allow for a relatively atraumatic cochlear insertion) have all helped contribute to hearing preservation with standard cochlear implants.
That article also mentions using a BAHA type hearing aid after a CI. Interesting. Not sure my better ear is good enough to bother with that. There’s an article about that here.
Time to get back to work. Playing catch up on everything after a week out of town.