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Implanting an ear that has not processed sound for many years

Mary Beth

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It’s great that this is being focused on now.  It is contrary to past beliefs. My right ear had not processed any sounds for 24 years after a surgery for meniere’s and it is an excellent CI ear.

Statement 13: Long durations of unaided hearing loss do not rule out potential benefit of cochlear implants: individuals who receive an implant in an ear that was previously unaided for more than 15 years have been shown to experience improvements in speech recognition.

Individuals with long durations of unaided hearing loss may still benefit from cochlear implantation. This finding is demonstrated by 2 studies41,54 showing that speech recognition scores were not different between individuals who received a cochlear implant in their previously sound-deprived ear and those who received one in their previously aided ear.



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Very good news indeed

I also agree as my hearing loss during my 20s was more severe in my right ear.  I favored my left ear and started using hearing aid only on my left.  I never really "listened" though my right ear at all.   It was profoundly deaf probably close to 2 decades.  It was chosen for CI and quickly became excellent for speech processing, music enjoyment and perfect CI ear all around. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Instead of reposting my response from an older thread on a similar topic of inquiry (given my post was admittedly a bit long), I’m just going to link to it here for those interested in this discussion:

So with that context in mind, I’m a bilateral CI user and I can say definitively that my right dominant ear (for my entire life) is still vastly superior as a CI-aided ear to my long deaf left ear (which was actually implanted a year earlier than my right). With my right CI I could immediately understand speech from the moment of activation and was talking on the phone the day of activation. I held public webinars online in under a month. Needless to say, this is a dramatically different outcome from my left ear, which to this day I still struggle to do any speech comprehension task with sufficient clarity while lacking visual cues on that ear alone (though there has been dramatic improvements on many fronts). 

So I do think there are some material differences in the potential outcomes for CI candidates depending on the neural/physical architecture. But if you were to ask me, I think the real barrier is whether one is pre- or post linguistic in their implanted ear (and the medical literature indicates similarly). I think with the latter, there is likely little-to-no time barrier to ultimately reaping the full benefits that a CI has to offer; though longer periods of deafness will likely necessitate a more arduous rehabilitation period. However, with the former situation, I do tend to believe that there’s a real likelihood that most CI adopters will confront some insurmountable barriers given such an extended (and critical) developmental period of pre-linguistic deafness, though the spectrum of performance will obviously vary and time will always work in favor of the recipient to some extent. I’m basically a case study in this dual phenomenon, with excellent speech comprehension developed within my right ear prior to implantation, with a concurrent (likely) pre-linguistic deafened left ear.

All that said, if you read my earlier post you will see I am still an enthusiastic advocate of CI technology for anyone that has had any period of long-lived deafness (mine being about 40yrs), pre or post linguistic development. 

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