- A cochlear implant is a small, complex electronic device that can help to provide a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing.
- Cochlear implants compensate for damaged or non-working parts of the inner ear.
- When hearing is functioning normally, complicated parts of the inner ear convert sound waves in the air into electrical impulses.
- These impulses are then sent to the brain, where a hearing person recognizes them as sound. A cochlear implant works in a similar manner.
- An implant does not restore or create normal hearing. Instead, under the appropriate conditions, it can give a deaf person a useful auditory understanding of the environment and help him or her to understand speech.
- The implant is surgically placed under the skin behind the ear.
30 year old Alisa Watson from Ledbury, who was born deaf, is just three weeks away from a cochlear implant operation.
The operation is not without risks, as it will destroy what little hearing she has at the moment, and she doesn't how good her hearing will be after the treatment.
"I was born deaf, but it wasn't diagnosed until I was two years old.
"My mother knew that something wasn't quite right because I wasn't responding to environmental sound or my parents talking.
" I was fitted up with just one hearing aid and was given speech therapy.
"I was about four years old when my sister, who was two years younger than me, began speaking herself very fluently and holding conversations, and I, as the oldest sister wanted to be part of this, and that was a real stimulation for me to start talking more and more.
"In terms of vocabulary I was always many years behind my sister and my brother, but I've caught up gradually.
|"I don't know if the implant will give me that ability, but it would be nice just to hear a bird."|
"I communicate by lip reading and I have two hearing aids but they only give me some sounds - they only tend to hear low frequency sound.
"The things I long to hear are things like birds singing - as an ecologist it's so frustrating to go out with colleagues and they says 'That's a Blackbird, that's a Robin, that's a Blue Tit', and I can't even see the birds."
"I don't know if the implant will give me that ability, but it would be nice just to hear a bird."
We'll be telling the rest of Alisa's story over the course of this week.