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March 28, 2007

Minister announces £750000 cochlear implant programme

From: - Hereford,Herefordshire,UK - Mar 28, 2007

More adults with profound hearing difficulties are set to benefit thanks to a new £750,000 cochlear implant programme, Health and Social Services Minister, Dr Brian Gibbons, announced today (Wednesday).

The new funding will mean that all of the patients currently waiting for an implant will be able to be treated.

It is anticipated that the programme is expected to help over 20 patients in the next financial year 2007/08.

Currently the implants are only available in a very few exceptional cases.

This represents an increase of over 60% in funding for the cochlear implant programme.

Dr Gibbons said: “Cochlear implants can make the world of difference to people who are profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing. The funding I have announced today means that we can dramatically increase the number of people we can treat across Wales.”

A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted electronic device that can help provide a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing.

Patients are assessed individually as to whether or not an implant is appropriate. The assessment takes into account a person's hearing history, cause of hearing loss, amount of residual hearing, speech recognition ability, and general health.

Unlike other kinds of hearing aids, the cochlear implant does not amplify sound, but works by directly stimulating any functioning auditory nerves inside the ear with electrical impulses. External components of the cochlear implant include a microphone, speech processor and transmitter.

Under the appropriate conditions, an implant can give a deaf person a useful auditory understanding of the environment and hearing and help them to understand speech, although post-implantation therapy is usually required.

The new programme will be delivered by Health Commission Wales who already commission cochlear implants for children.

© 2007