Also referred to as a bionic ear, a cochlear implant (CI) is an electronic device that, when implanted surgically, helps the profoundly deaf hear. Rather than simply amplifying noise, like a hearing aid, a CI electrically stimulates the nerves in the ears to improve perception. Cochlear implants are complicated devices that are comprised of a microphone, a speech processor, a transducer and two coils (held together by a magnet).
Cochlear implants were first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December 1984. They are produced by MED-El, an Australian based medical device manufacturer. Although this technology has been available for more than two decades, not very many patients have had a CI implanted due to the high costs of the device and associated surgical procedure.
As of April 2009, about 188,000 individuals in the world had received a CI device. Nearly 16 percent of these patients are Americans.
Candidates for Cochlear Implants
Those best suited to receive a cochlear implant include patients who have:
- Severe to profound hearing loss in both ears
- A strong desire to speak, hear and participate in the hearing world
- Had no success with hearing aids
- A medical history that does not make surgery a dangerous option
- The drive to follow through with subsequent therapies
- A support system that can help them through this process
Cochlear Implant Problems & Risks
CI devices are known to cause a number of serious health complications, including:
- Acoustic neuroma, benign tumors on the cranial nerve that transports sound and equilibrium information to the brain
- Meningitis, a life-threatening infection of the brain and spinal tissues (Children with cochlear implants have a 30 percent greater risk of developing meningitis than those without CI.)
- Necrosis (death) of ear tissues
- Permanent loss of natural hearing (due to nerve damage caused by the surgical implantation of the CI)
Settlements for Cochlear Implant Defects
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured after receiving a cochlear implant (or if your loved one has died from cochlear implant complications), you will have a legal claim against MED-EL and will likely be entitled to compensation for your injuries and losses.
To speak with a qualified personal injury lawyer who is familiar with product liability, contact Gacovino, Lake & Associates. Our attorneys are passionate about defending the rights of persons and families harmed by defective medical devices and are committed to figuring out what went wrong. We believe that companies who manufacture medical devices have a responsibility to American consumers and when something goes wrong, we are prepared to fight aggressively to hold them accountable for their actions.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury from a defective cochlear implant and are seeking experienced legal representation, contact us today. We will investigate the details of your case and fight aggressively to ensure you recover the full amount of compensation you are entitled to.