The audiologists at University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center have invented an innovative device called an Auditory Brainstem Implant (ABI). The implantable device provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf.
It was tested for the first time on Maggie, who was born without cochleas. Therefore she didn’t had any auditory nerve. Maggie had to wait a long time for a technology like ABI to advance to a stage where it could help her. The device consists of a tiny radio receiver which could be implanted underneath the skin and tiny platinum electrodes implanted into the brain stem. The mechanism through it works can be explained simply as it just bypasses the ear and stimulates the neurons directly at the brain stem. In this case, the surgery was in September, 2014 and the system was turned and tested on Dec 28, 2014.
Sounds, amplified and clarified by a special coil and miniature computer that slips onto the ear like a conventional hearing aid, are collected by the receiver, converted to electrical pulses and transmitted to the electrodes. From there the signals travel through the skin by radio frequency and connect to the brain stem at the same place the auditory nerve would normally connect. Although the patients can perceive sound and pitch, results may vary by patient and full hearing is not restored.
For latest research papers on Otorhinolaryngology visit Journal of Otology & Rhinology