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Children's Hospital celebrates 25 years of cochlear implants

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – They started off as big as a walkman, and now they’re as tiny as a hearing aid, and make a world of a difference to some children with severe hearing loss.

Over 300 children can hear a lot better thanks to BC Children’s Hospital Cochlear Implant program.

Raegan Bergstrom, Cochlear Implant Coordinator, says the program, now in its 25th year, is one option for kids who aren’t benefiting from hearing aids.

“Someone who didn’t have a cochlear implant or get a cochlear implant would most likely use sign language as their main mode of communicating and would just access language in a different way.”

Bergstrom says hearing loss in children may cause delays in speech and language development.

“The goal of the cochlear implant is to help provide access to softer sounds again that they may not have been able to hear and to hopefully aid in providing access to all of the sounds of speech.”

The implant consists of two parts: an internal device that is surgically implanted and an external sound processor worn behind the ear that picks up sound.

The sound processor delivers the signal to the implant to stimulate the nerves in the cochlea, which the brain perceives as sound.