By Molly Moser
A Garnavillo boy born without the ability to hear is now dancing and singing along with the radio.
Lucas Sadewasser, now almost three, received cochlear implants about 18 months ago, and he’s surprising those around him with his progress.
A cochlear implant is an electronic device that partially restores hearing for people who have severe hearing loss and don't benefit from hearing aids. The implant consists of an external processor, which sits behind the ear; and a second portion, a receiver, that is surgically placed under the skin.
A microphone on the external portion picks up sounds from the environment. The speech processor selects and arranges these sounds and transmits sound signals to the internal receiver. There, sound signals are converted into electric impulses and sent via the auditory nerve to the brain, where they are interpreted as a form of hearing.
While a cochlear implant does not restore normal hearing, it can give a deaf person a useful representation of sounds and help him or her to understand speech. Results vary from person to person, but according to Mayo Clinic, most patients report improved ability to hear speech without needing visual cues and to recognize normal, everyday environmental sounds; the ability to hear soft sounds; and the ability to locate the sources of sound.