….or We Are Going To Put This In Your Skull
Having decided to move forward with a Cochlear Implant as my best chance to hear again, the next question is whose hardware (implant) am I going to use?
Turns out it is a pretty small store….. there are only three FDA approved CI systems to choose from. Cochlear; MedEl; and Advanced Bionics. * (The people at Cochlear Implant Help have put together a ridiculously helpful .pdf chart comparing all three. Link Below)
Cochlear has about 55% of the worldwide market, the other two a little over 20% each.
As you might expect, there are technical considerations and there are user considerations.
On the technical side, there are notable differences ranging from sound mapping software to how many thousand times a second is the stimulation rate. There are different numbers of stimulating electrodes and the question whether or not the implant has to be surgically removed in order to have an MRI. I cannot stress enough how important it is to discuss and listen to the evaluations of the Clinic team as to what is going to work best for you. In my case, one of the significant factors was the length of the electrode wire. My surgeon suggested the longest electrode available given the structure of my cochlea. The longer electrode theoretically will stimulate a wider frequency range for me. “Let’s see if we can’t get you to hear the whole piano…not just the middle ranges.“
The user considerations are just as diverse. Rechargeable or disposable batteries. How long on one battery charge…can I get through one whole day?
What does it connect to ? Phone, TV, remote microphone etc. FM or Blue Tooth Connection? How do I control the settings? How much control do I have? What kind of follow-up and training resources does this company have? How is their Customer Service after the fact. And so on. Again, use the clinic team to help you sort it out but do your own research.
After weighing the technical and user considerations I decided to go with MedEL. That’s not an endorsement, just the choice I made.