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What is a Cochlear Implant : How Does it Work

All cochlear implants are broadly similar in design and consist of two parts - an internal part and an external part.

The internal part is surgically implanted under the skin and is comprised of a receiver/ stimulator package (including a magnet), and an electrode array. The main component of the external part is the speech processor, consisting of a processing module and a microphone. A transmit coil and cable are attached.

Diagram showing how a cochlear implant works

The microphone picks up acoustic sounds which are then analysed by the speech processor and converted into patterns of electrical stimulation. These are delivered across the skin by radio waves from the transmit coil.

The implant decodes this information and individual electrodes in the electrode array are activated. This in turn stimulates the auditory nerve and results in the perception of sound. Corresponding magnets in the receiver /stimulator package and the transmit coil hold the device in place.