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2013 was a big year for the cochlear implant industry. What’s in store for 2014?

December 31st, 2013 by | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

2013 has been a big year for the cochlear implant industry as three major cochlear implant manufacturers released new sound processors.  The market share has been shaking up as Advanced Bionics takes some share from Cochlear.  Neurotron, a Chinese cochlear implant manufacturer continued to emerge in China and take shares from Cochlear.   William Demant, the parent company of Oticon, acquired Neurelec, a French cochlear implant company.  Cochlear and Advanced Bionics both moved into the wireless era by releasing sound processors that work with wireless technologies.  All three continued to follow the trend of miniaturizing the sound processors by releasing smaller sizes.  MED-EL released the world’s first all-in-one headpiece sound processor.  An FDA panel recommended that Cochlear’s Hybrid Cochlear Implant should be approved for the market.  Advanced Bionics released a new internal cochlear implant, HiFocus™ Mid-Scala.  Cochlear implant surgeons began implanting Auditory Brainstem Implants, an internal device for people who have no auditory nerves and/or cochlea, in young children in the United States.

Professor Graeme Clark, Dr. Ingeborg Hochmair, and Dr. Blake Wilson, pioneers in the development of cochlear implants, won one of the world’s most prestigious awards, Lasker Awards this past fall.

While cochlear implant industry continued to grow and positively change the lives of people with hearing loss, news media continued to spread misinformation about the technology.  The Economist, one of the world’s prestigious publication, wrote an ill-informed article about cochlear implants.  Fortunately, The Economist published Rachel’s letter to the editor clarifying the misinformation a couple weeks later.  The Atlantic, another highly regarded publication, perpetuated misinformation about deaf children learning to hear and speak.

In spite of misinformation continuing to be spread, people continue to create awareness about cochlear implants.  Jacob Landis rode his bike to all 30 baseball stadiums and raised over $200,000 for people who cannot afford cochlear implants.  A mom of a child with a cochlear implant released a film about a parent getting a child a cochlear implant, 95 Decibels.  Cochlear implants made major appearances in the media.  Switched at Birth, a television show on ABC Family, aired episodes featuring a character with a cochlear implant and an actor who hears with a cochlear implant in real life.  Project Runaway featured a cochlear implant recipient who became a finalist, Justin LeBlanc.  Malala Yousafzai, an advocate for girls’ right to education, received a cochlear implant this past February.  A two-year old boy who became the very first child in the US to be implanted with the Auditory Brainstem Implant received a huge amount of attention on many media outlets.  The US government learned more about the importance of cochlear implants as this past summer, US Senator of North Carolina, Kay Hagan, visited Center for the Acquisition of Spoken Language Through Listening Enrichment (CASTLE), a very highly regarded programs for teaching deaf children to hear and speak at University of North Carolina.  American Cochlear Implant Alliance met with various congressional members to discuss the importance of early intervention for deaf children with cochlear implants.

New research studies, showing that deaf children can learn to hear and speak successfully as long as they follow through appropriate rehabilitation and cochlear implants improve adult’s quality of life, continued to be released, .  Researchers found a possibility to disable Meniere’s disease.   Researchers continued to find new ways to help cochlear implant recipients gain greater appreciation for music.

Without any doubts, 2014 will be another eventful year for the hearing loss world.  Here are our predictions for 2014:

  • Advanced Bionics will release another new sound processor and internal implant. (confirmed)
  • Cochlear™ will roll out wireless devices to go with the Nucleus® 6 Sound Processors. (confirmed)
  • New software for the Nucleus® 6  Sound Processor will be rolled out. (confirmed)
  • The access to cochlear implants will rapidly rise in China and other Asian countries.
  • The number of LSL certified professionals (both AVT and AVEd) will continue to grow, especially among professionals working in public schools (hospital- and center-based SLPs have always been going to AVT certification, but now more and more public school teachers and therapists are doing it, too).
  • More auditory-oral school programs will close, reduce the number of grades/ages they serve to focus on only younger children, and/or change their service model to be one more focused on outreach and mainstream support as children are getting implanted younger and younger.
  • The FDA’s recommended age for implantation may go down, as more and more studies are showing that CIs are safe and effective (and even more beneficial) when children receive them at under 12 months of age.
  • The FDA may also expand implantation criteria to include children (and adults) who have more residual hearing left, or whose speech perception scores are “too good” but nonetheless would do even better with CIs than they are with their hearing aids.
  • Telepractice will continue to grow rapidly as a new service model for providing LSL services to families without access to local professionals.
  • Hybrid implants will continue to be developed and may hit the general market as a solution for people with high-frequency hearing loss that needs a cochlear implant but some low-frequnecy residual hearing that could benefit from traditional amplification.

Here are the top 12 most read blog posts for 2013:

  1. A Review of Nucleus 6 by a Nucleus Cochlear Implant Recipient
  2. Concerns about Switched at Birth Presenting an All ASL Episode 
  3. News round Ups: New Sound Processors and Funding for Auditory-Oral Education
  4. More Details on Advanced Bionics’ New Sound Processor
  5. Lots of New Sound Processors Are Coming This Year.  Should We Wait?
  6. 11 Reasons Why Cochlear Implants Make Your Life Awesome
  7. A Cochlear Implant Recipient’s Perspective on RONDO
  8. Aqua Accessory  Review: Part 2: Pool Experience
  9. News Round-Ups
  10. Nucleus 6 Sound Processor Review: Listening in the Real World
  11. When will Nucleus 22 Recipients Receive a Sound Processor Upgrade from Cochlear?
  12. Dr. Fan Gang-Zeng: Creator of Chinese Cochlear Implant, Nurotron

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