Alternative hearing device becoming a game changer for patients

Baldwin County

BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) – May is Better Hearing & Speech Month and News 5 is taking a closer look at a popular alternative to hearing aids. Cochlear Implants are electronic devices that allow patients to hear when they might not otherwise be able to do so. An external part of the device is position behind the ear and another part of the device is implanted during surgery. The outpatient surgery for the implant typically lasts about 2 hours.

“It involves an incision behind the ear usually in the hairline. The implant itself looks very much like a hearing aid. Most people have probably seen someone with a cochlear implant and didn’t know that’s what the device was,” says Dr. Brian Hixon with Eastern Shore Ear, Nose & Throat.

Unlike hearing aids, though, a cochlear implant goes beyond the damaged sections of the ear and allows the patient to hear things that once seemed muted, or not heard at all.

News 5 spoke with the family of a 2 1/2 year old who recently had surgery for a cochlear implant. 

“He can finally hear alarms and things like the garage door opening,” says the mother. 

We’re learning more this week about cochlear implants and how they not only help your hearing, but how these devices can help your mental health, too.

“Advanced hearing loss has a very profound effect on patients,” said Dr. Hixon.

Dr. Hixon tells News 5 a lot of patients with hearing loss suffer from anxiety and depression. 

Did you know that only a small amount of people who would be considered a candidate for this device have actually had the surgery? WKRG.com Mobile Journalist Blake Brown is finding out why that number is so low and what’s being done to better educate potential candidates. 

Look for the complete story later this week on News 5.

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