Advanced Bionics, Valencia, Calif, a cochlear implant manufacturer, has established a new Web site for cochlear implant candidates that connects them with cochlear implant recipients and fosters a dialogue between the two to help demystify the implant experience, the company says.

Via the site, implant candidates can communicate with “mentors"—people who have had cochlear implant surgery and share the experience of surgery and living with cochlear implants. The Connect to Mentor Web site is part of the Bionic Ear Association Mentor Program, a free support network.

“Advanced Bionics has an actively engaged population of 6,000 BEA members,” says Jeffrey Greiner, Advanced Bionics’ CEO. “In developing this Web site, the company realized that its most valuable assets are cochlear implant recipients themselves. This site allows them to share their experiences, offer advice to others who might be thinking of being implanted, and help them navigate the process from surgery to entering the hearing world.”

Cochlear implants are surgically implanted electronic devices for people with severe-to-profound hearing loss. Unlike hearing aids, they don’t amplify sound, but work by directly stimulating any functioning auditory nerves inside the cochlea through an electric impulse.

Candidates can use the site to search for mentors such as parents of implanted children, relatives of cochlear recipients, and adult recipients. Mentors post a profile featuring their photo, favorite sound, interests and hobbies, hometown, age they were implanted, severity of hearing loss, and how they can help cochlear implant candidates. Candidates can initiate a conversation with mentors based on their profile.

The volunteer mentors are trained by experienced clinicians who oversee the program, Greiner says, adding that they may be helpful as empathetic guides for the implant candidates.

Mentor Evelyn G lost her hearing as a young adult due to Meniere’s disease. For 18 years, she relied on the use of hearing aids and lip reading for daily communication. “I want to give those struggling to hear hope, and let them know a normal life is possible with a CI [cochlear implant],” Evelyn’s profile notes. “I got my two CI’s and I am not shy anymore. I love being with people and each day is pure joy.” Information from Evelyn’s profile was provided by Advanced Bionics.

Advanced Bionics manufactures the Harmony HiResolution Bionic Ear System, which offers an advanced listening experience, the commpany says, featuring 120 spectral bands to help deaf recipients to go beyond deciphering simple speech to hearing music.

Advanced Bionics is a manufacturer of auditory technologies, and it is a US-based manufacturer of cochlear implants.

[Source: Advanced Bionics]