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Elderly patients do benefit from cochlear implants

21st December 2005

There is no need for the use of cochlear implants in older patients to be seen as "controversial", say researchers, as age was found to have no impact on the success of the implant.

Research into the effects of age on the outcome of a cochlear implant indicates that many elderly people are unnecessarily discriminated against and that they are just as responsive to treatment as younger candidates.

Published in the Archives of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, the study found that the difference in recovery of those over the age of 65 was not significant and was often not "clinically detectable".

Dr John K. Niparko, who helped carry out the research, said that elderly people did benefit from the treatment and that factors such as early language learning and residual hearing were found to have a greater impact.

"A foundation of central auditory processing in the older cohort may actually mitigate the disadvantage of advanced age at implantation, build on adaptive skills, and help explain the encouraging results of this study," Dr Niparko explained.

The treatment involves inserting a small electronic device under the skin near the ear, providing a sense of sound to those who are hard of hearing.