When I was trying to explain to my work colleagues and friends about how the cochlear implant actually works, I found this very useful video, which gives you a clear idea of what actually happens to get the sound to your brain.

View an animation from the manufacturer (flash 7 2.7Mb)

View an animation of how a cochlear implant works (flash 7 2.7Mb).

What a lot of people don’t realise is that the implant actually by-passes the ear drum, and stimulates the nerve directly.

I personally can’t imagine how this will feel – I would have thought it would give you headaches all the time, from having the electrical impulses going directly into your nerves. And wouldn’t the nerves eventually wear down as well? Apparently they don’t, but …

I like to think I know a lot about cochlear implants, having researched them fairly heavily before deciding to go ahead and get one – but there are just so many things about it that I don’t understand.

Professor Graeme Clark, creator of the multiple-electrode cochlear implant.

Professor Graeme Clark, creator of the multiple-electrode cochlear implant.

You can see why Professor Graeme Clark, inventor of the Bionic Ear, is revered as a god in audiological circles! The most amazing thing is, he is Australian!

As a young boy Clark’s father went deaf which led to his lifelong mission to help deaf people. His experience with his hearing impaired father was the ultimate motivation that made him seek a way to help deaf people hear.

Inspired by the life works of Louis Pasteur, Clark considered the notion that hearing, particularly for speech, might be reproduced in people with deafness if the damaged or underdeveloped ear were bypassed and the auditory nerve electrically stimulated, to reproduce the coding of sound.

The first multi-channel cochlear implant operation was done at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in 1978 by Professor Clark and Dr Brian Pyman. The first person to receive the implant was Rod Saunders who had lost his hearing aged 46.

Check out the story on him below:

Interview with Professor Graeme Clark on George Negus Tonight, ABC