Most biological features in our world are symmetrical. We have two eyes and two ears that are symmetrically located on either side of our bodies. However, that does not mean that both eyes or ears function in the exact same way. It is possible to have completely different types and degrees of hearing loss between your two ears. Although one ear may meet the requirements for a cochlear implant, your opposite ear may benefit from the use of a different type of hearing implant or a hearing aid worn in combination with your cochlear implant. This is known as bimodal amplification. When the hearing is different in each of your ears, we call it an asymmetrical hearing loss.
You, like most cochlear implant candidates are looking for a device that will improve your speech understanding so you can interact and participate with the world around you. Cochlear implants are amazing. They can significantly improve your hearing and allow you to return to be an active communicator. However, research has shown that binaural hearing is better—”two ears are better than one.” There is a reason why you have two ears—your brain uses the input from each ear to tell where sound is coming from and fill in the blanks that may be left from one ear’s input alone.
Bimodal hearing (cochlear implant on one ear and hearing aid on the other ear) has been shown to have benefits including:
- A fuller, richer sound quality due to the addition of low pitch information from the hearing aid. This can lead to the best sound and music experience as a result using both acoustic and electric sound devices.
- A higher quality of life in social activities, likely due to an improvement with two-ear hearing and overall improvement in sound quality.
- Improved ability to hear speech in noise when two ears are working together.
- Improvement in your ability to locate sound can be an important and immediate effect of bimodal fittings as two devices help to better discover the location of sound sources.
Using a bimodal solution can also provide you with more accessory options to connect with your friends and family—helping you participate effectively in your daily life activities.