Hybrid cochlear implants for common form of hearing loss may benefit millions

People with a common form of hearing loss not helped by hearing aids achieved significant and sometimes profound improvements in their hearing and understanding of speech with hybrid cochlear implant devices, according to a new multicenter study led by specialists at NYU Langone Medical Center.

In the study researchers at 10 medical centres and private clinics in the United States implanted hybrid cochlear implants into one ear of 50 men and women. All study volunteers had badly damaged high-frequency, inner-ear hair cells, which prevented them from understanding speech, especially in the presence of background noise. All still had sufficient low-frequency hearing, which allowed them to tell apart some sounds and forestalled any use of a regular cochlear implant.

A year after receiving the device, 45 study participants showed overall improvement in their hearing and speech recognition, and no one