People who are severely hard-of-hearing or are profoundly deaf can sometimes benefit from an electronic device called a cochlear implant. These devices are surgically implanted in the recipient with one portion underneath the skin and one behind the ear itself. Although cochlear implants do not enable people to hear “normally,” they provide useful auditory feedback that, with extensive therapy, people can learn to interpret as speech. These devices are significantly different from traditional hearing aids, which simply amplify sound.
Being profoundly deaf or extremely hard-of-hearing is a chronic condition, and as such, it is information that EMTs and emergency room personnel need to know in the event of an accident or injury. As only an estimated 220,000 people worldwide have cochlear implants, it’s not something all doctors or EMTs are familiar with, and it’s important that they realize right away that the person whom they are treating may not be able to hear or understand them properly, particularly if the implant has been damaged in an accident.
Even without a cochlear implant, medical ID jewelry is helpful for those who are profoundly deaf or severely hard-of-hearing because it alerts EMTs to their baseline condition so that these first responders are aware that a patient’s inability to hear is not a new symptom or injury.