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[March 8, 2006]

Brooklyn Medical Center Providing Cochlear Implants

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders estimates that “28 million Americans have a hearing impairment” effecting the young and elderly.  Cochlear implants have made life easier for thousands of people who are severely hard of hearing or profoundly deaf.  SUNY Downstate Medical Center is now making cochlear implantation available and bringing it closer to home for Brooklynites. 
It is an exciting procedure we can offer in Brooklyn,” said Dr. John Weigand, director of Audiology at SUNY Downstate, adding,  “We are one of the only hospitals offering cochlear implants in Brooklyn.”
Cochlear implants perform some of the functions of the inner ear (cochlea), which is responsible for receiving sounds and converting them into electronic signals sent to the brain.  Cochlear implants consist of three basic components: a sound processor, the implant, and an electrode array.  The sound processor captures sound turning it into digital information and transmitting it to the implant, which is surgically place behind the ear.  The implant turns the digital information into electrical signals and sends them to the electrode array.  The electrode array delivers the electronic signals to the auditory nerve and then on to the brain where sound is perceived.  The surgery is generally an outpatient procedure and only takes 1-2 hours to be performed. 
“It’s an amazing device,” Dr. Mathew Hanson, chief of Otology, who performed the first cochlear implant surgery at SUNY Downstate last November.  “Cochlear implants are one of the most rewarding [surgical] procedures that a physician can perform.  It’s a life changing operation.”