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So what IS that neat little box in my head?


FarmTownBob
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As I am doing my research into this wonderful world of cochlear implantation, I am focusing on what I believe is the single most important piece of the puzzle - the internal electrode array.  That is what causes an implantee to marry a specific brand for life.

I've learned about Med El's electrode arrays, and like their features such as electrode positioning and the wavy wiring versus straight wiring to be more flexible within the cochlea itself.

Now, I am curious as to the technology of the little "black box" which I presume is like a graphic equalizer which takes the input from the processor received by the internal coil and separates it by frequency and sends the specific frequency to the correct electrode for stimulation.  But I want to know more about whats inside and how it does what it does.

Being an ex IT professional, I am curious is this more of an "intel" versus "AMD" architecture issue between the companies, or are they all using the same technology within, just branding it differently.  Like batteries or antifreeze, there are only one or two manufacturers who MAKE the product, but each company labels and may make superficial changes to be able to call the battery or antifreeze "theirs".

Hope I am not too techie with this post, but if Im going to marry something for life, I wanna know all the skeletons in the closet before I commit. ;P

Thanks, FarmTownBob!

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@FarmTownBob follow your Pariemission. Intel and AMD use similar technology, but the way how to apply it was the difference. As IT profesional you know that the work different and both have incompatibilities issues depending the environment where these works.

The manufacturing processes, the technology used, the coding methods and the professionals involved in the surgery and the subsequent programming really make the difference between the brand. Here we have an addition. We are persons and not machines (at least).  Failures here should be reduced as low as possible. The "Service pack" are not easy to apply ;)

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I am a former IT Tech as well and I understand your desire to research between the three Mfgs of CIs. Each of the three, MedEl, Advanced Bionics (AB), and Cochlear America do basically the same thing-they receive sound into a processor and send electrical impulses to the cochlear nerve of the inner ear for sound processing in the brain. How each company does that has their own unique features.

 

The processors of each (the outer part that you wear) has unique features that I would consider "the black box" to use your terminology 

Each company uses the same basic concept of converting sound to electrical impulses that is transferred to the implanted component via magnetics.

Those impulses are then sent to the electrodes array that id implanted in the cochlea. Again, how each company does that is unique and each has a unique philosophy on number of electrodes and their placement in the cochlea. For example, MedEl believes in a longer electrode array to reach the full length of the cochlea, while Cochlear America's philosophy is a shorter electrode array.

As an amateur musician, I happen to prefer the philosophy of a longer reach into the cochlea, MedEl's Complete Cochlear Coverage, as covered on their website and on the TriFormance page.

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@Jdashiell  Thank you for posting.  Yes, 20 years of IT tech work kinda transforms some.  Would I be correct in presuming the box under the coil inside the head is like a graphic equalizer that distributes the frequencies among the electrodes?  I hate to sound like I'm focusing on something trivial, but Its important to me to understand in detail what each part does.  I too am of the opinion that more cochlear coverage is better; however, what is your take on ABs technology of "virtual electrodes"?  Is that kind of like saying "virtual memory versus physical memory" in a PC?  If that's the case, then, as people mention frequently in the CI world, if you shut off or have a physical electrode turned off or fail, then the loss would not only affect the physical electrode but whatever virtual electrodes are around it.  Therefore it would be possible to lose more than just the one electrode's performance, possibly affecting the electrodes to each side depending on the reliance between each other.

I am one who always takes into account a total system failure, worst case scenario.  If I'm told it can't happen, it will to me!  lol!

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@FarmTownBob yes like virtually memory. When two adjacent electrodes are stimulated simultaneously a distinct pitch is created which is the virtual electrode. Since you can have 15 pairs of electrodes and 8 channels per pair of electrodes there are 120 virtual electrodes.

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Just a quick word, I have always had one electrode turned off. It was simply drawing too much power and wasn’t having a great significant sound output. So we ditched it. So I have 11 of 12 working. I have had that since month two or three. I’m now two years three months in. Sound quality still amazes me every time I hear something new. Yes that still happens! ??

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Well I appealed to the hospital. They will fund it because I am going to take part in a study of bilateral implantees. They do have a list that you can be put on but there’s no guarantee when you will be able to be implanted. I am only 40 years old. So I hope to have a long life. 

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On 2018-02-13 at 6:52 AM, mgfiest said:

@Kara of Canada well I guess I know where the $$$ are for CI in Ontario... lol

Sad but true. 

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Wonderful!  I so wish MedEl had a Bimodal solution.  They certainly have been the most technically informative of all three companies.  Thank you so much @Mary Beth

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@FarmTownBob

To hear sound in both a HA and a Med-El processor simultaneously, we have these options....

-Roger receivers 

-BT neckloops (as long as the HA has an active telecoil)

-headphones (BOSE QC did not cause feedback in my HA days.)

The above ways are wireless.  No direct wire to the HA nor CI processor.

There are wired options as well.

 

Somewhere here we posted a link to Med-El’s explanation for why it is not partnering up with a HA brand.

 

Wishing you the best, regardless of your brand choice.  Do you have a timeframe for CI surgery yet?

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