Great inventions, discoveries and scientific advances are those that significantly help improve people’s quality of life. A good example is the Cochlear Implant, which since 1978 has contributed to the fact that more than 320 thousand people around the world have heard again and, therefore, have been moved again by the voice and laughter of family and friends, with the music or the sound of the sea. And it was precisely the significance of this invention that has earned its creator, the Australian Graeme Clarkthe Lasker-DeBakey Prize for Medical Research, considered the American Nobel Prize.
The prestigious Lasker Awards have been presented annually since 1942 to doctors, scientists, healthcare professionals or entities that have made an outstanding contribution to improving the prevention, diagnosis, treatment or cure of patients. Awarded by the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, they are considered the American Nobel Prizes and have often been premonitory of them. In the case of Clark, he will share the award with his collaborators in the development of the Cochlear Implant, Ingeborg Hochmair and Blake S. Wilson, with whom 35 years ago he performed the first multichannel implant intervention, which has since been marketed by the Australian firm Cochlear, a world leader in implants. In Spain, nearly nine thousand people with severe hearing disorders have been able to hear again thanks to this device, according to data from the AICE Federation (Federation of Associations of Cochlear Implants of Spain).
How does it work
Cochlear implants mainly consist of two parts that are placed in two phases. First, a portion of the device is surgically implanted within the temporal bone surrounding the ear and includes a stimulator-receptor that accepts, decodes, and then sends an electrical signal to the brain. The second is an external device, which consists of a sound processor with a coil, where the sound is received, converted into an electrical signal and sent to the internal part of the implant.
The cochlear implant is indicated for both children and adults who are completely deaf or have severe hearing difficulties and who, furthermore, have not had improvement or evolution with hearing aids. Both children and adults may be suitable for a cochlear implant. What’s more, with the latest technological advances, which have helped reduce the size of these devices, even babies as young as one year old can meet the requirements for a cochlear implant.
In Spain there are currently 40 implantation centers in all the autonomous communities except Cantabria, La Rioja, Ceuta and Melilla. UMusic, as an expert in hearing correction, has a Hearing Implant Area that supports the implantation centers in our country and cares for implanted people after the surgical intervention to offer them personalized care and follow-up. The company has 60 reference centers for implanted patients spread throughout Spain, where users can find a specialized care service. Furthermore, since 1988, UMusic is the exclusive distributor in Spain of the international firm Cochlear, world leader in cochlear implants.