Audiologist Helen Court has been fitted with a cochlear implant herself
Photo: Warren Lynam / Sunshine Coast Daily
Audiologist Helen Court has been fitted with a cochlear implant herself Photo: Warren Lynam / Sunshine Coast Daily Warren Lynam

Bionic ears on their way

PEOPLE with 'bionic ears' may be eligible for an upgrade due to a $2.83 million funding boost from the NSW Government.

Up to 370 adults in NSW with severe hearing loss will have their 'bionic ears' upgraded.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the upgrade to all public patients outdated cochlear implants worn will significantly enhance their everyday lives.

"Every single hearing-impaired adult patient in the NSW public health system will now be able to continue to enjoy the quality of life that this amazing Australian invention provides," Mr Hazzard said.

"For many, the upgrading will mean a huge improvement in everyday pleasures that most people take for granted, like making a phone call or listening to music."

Funding will allow the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIBDC) to purchase and coordinate the replacement of up to 370 cochlear sound processors for NSW public patients before they become obsolete at the end of 2019.

The replacement of the sound processor will be done free of charge at a patient's routine audiology appointment and does not require extra surgery.

RIBDC's Chief Executive Chris Rehn said the upgrades will be life-changing for recipients - it will greatly improve their social life and, for some, enable them to stay in the workforce.

"This significant funding boost means that hundreds of NSW Cochlear implant recipients will be able to remain connected and continue to enjoy a world of better hearing," Mr Rehn said.

A cochlear implant is an electronic medical device that replaces the function of the damaged inner ear and provides sound signals to the brain.

The sound processors are the external devices that transmit digitally-coded sound through a coil on the outside of the head, to the implant.


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