New cochlear implant improves hearing in noisy environments

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Washington, July 10 : MED-EL Corporation has developed a novel FineHearing technology that can enable profoundly deaf people to enjoy music and hear clearly in noisy environments - two areas of hearing that have been challenging for cochlear implant users.

The OPUS Speech Processors offers the smallest internal implant, and the thinnest and lightest externally-worn speech processor available.

"The MAESTRO has created a tremendous capacity for patients to hear, they can filter out certain noises, and they can exist in environments that used to be not really well tolerated by people with cochlear implants. The new system has enabled recipients to hear much better than in the past," said Dr. Harold C. Pillsbury, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Experts behind this invention used a questionnaire to assess patients participating in a clinical trial of their new system.

Sixty-five per cent patients reported improved enjoyment of familiar music, while 59 per cent reported improved enjoyment of unfamiliar music.

Ninety-one per cent said that music sounded pleasant with their cochlear implant, while 82 per cent reported listening to music every week, if not every day.

More than 50 per cent reported improvement in speech understanding while listening in group-like situations, and 60 per cent said that they could understand both male and female voices better in everyday noisy environments.

The novel speech processor is being described as a milestone achievement in engineering.

It offers unparalleled comfort, battery life, hands-free capability, and remote access to controls.

Adjusting the settings of the speech processor is also easy because this can be done without having to remove it from the ear, and without interrupting hearing.

The processor also includes a standard input jack for connection to FM systems, and listening devices like iPod and Bluetooth.

The MAESTRO Cochlear Implant System's state-of-the-art electronics platform also incorporates technology that is well ahead of its time, with the capacity for features not yet available to the cochlear implant users of today.

Simple upgrades in external components or computer software can implement such features in the future, allowing recipients to take advantage of MED-EL's intelligent, forward-thinking engineering today and for many years to come.

"The technology used with MAESTRO CI system is a major advancement in that the implant, the part of the system that requires surgery, has capabilities that we have not tapped into yet. We have the ability to update the software, change the coding strategy, and even change electronics in the speech processor such that the implant itself will be able to deliver more information without requiring another surgery," said Dick Collette, President and CEO, MED-EL North America.

ANI

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