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Are Cochlear Implants Utilized Worldwide?

Jan Janssen

November 21, 2016

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Question

Cochlear implants are a proven treatment for severe and profound hearing loss.  Do you have any statistics regarding how many people need cochlear implants versus how many people receive them on a global basis?

Answer

The statistics regarding how many people who need these implantable hearing devices and just how many eventually receive them are stark. While many children with disabling hearing loss in developed countries receive a cochlear implant today, across all age groups only about 5 percent of the people who would benefit from a cochlear implant receive one. In the developing world that number plummets to about 1 percent.

That low level of people benefitting from this technology is the biggest issue we still face. And unfortunately, the situation is getting worse. The number of people who would benefit from an implant is outpacing the number we are treating on an annual basis.  So, from a global perspective, the needle is moving in the wrong direction, despite continuous advances in technology and treatment.

The reason those numbers are so troubling is the world of difference an implant can make in someone’s life, especially with the educational potential of children. To underscore that point, the World Health Organization estimates there are 34 million children in the world today whose hearing loss is “disabling” – that is more than the population of Peru.

At times, people point to the fact that these kinds of hearing implants are costly, but when you consider the positive impact the technology has on person’s life it becomes very clear that the benefits massively outweigh the costs. Following mainstream education, full participation in the work force, contributing as a tax payer and the ability to live independently for longer are clear benefits that arrive from the ability to hear and fully connect with others.

And finally, can you imagine if the person capable of curing cancer or bringing peace to the world was born deaf, but did not have access to this life-altering technology and was never able to develop to their full potential and earn the kind of education that could empower them to accomplish such great feats? That is what we are risking when so many fertile minds will remain silent, even though we have the ability to fill them with the sounds that will enable them to achieve their true promise.

Disclaimer: Please seek advice from your medical practitioner or health professional about treatments for hearing loss. They will be able to advise on a suitable solution for the hearing loss condition. All products should be used only as directed by your medical practitioner or health professional.

Learn more at www.cochlear.com/us or the Cochlear Expo Page on AudiologyOnline.


jan janssen

Jan Janssen

Senior Vice President, Design & Development, Cochlear

Jan has more than 15 years’ experience in research and development. He joined Cochlear in 2000 as General Manager of the Cochlear Technology Center based in Belgium, and moved to his current Sydney based role in May 2005.

Jan oversees a team of over 300 highly specialized engineers, researchers and scientists across Cochlear’s global network. Jan and his team work to identify and develop technologies and commercial products.

Jan received his MSc EE in electronics from Karel de Grote University College in Antwerp, Belgium and the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. 


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