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81 6 Cochlear Implants: Psychosocial Implications Irene W. Leigh Technology can influence psychosocial functioning in many ways. The telephone, the Internet, smartphones, videophones, iPads, and many other such devices are examples of how technology has changed the way people interact with each other. For example, researchers are now analyzing the way in which social connections and loneliness are affected by reliance on the Internet (Marche, 2012). These technologies have clearly been embraced by millions of individuals. The cochlear implant is a technological development that has long been touted as having the potential to improve deaf-hearing interactions through the use of enhanced hearing where practically none has existed (Christiansen & Leigh, 2002/2005). Researchers and professionals who focus on hearing and spoken language saw the cochlear implant as a tool that would facilitate access to education and socialization in the mainstream. However, history reveals that the development of cochlear implants was not universally welcomed, nor was it uniformly seen as a means of improving socialization and psychosocial development. We now turn to a brief history of the cochlear implant as background to clarify the impetus for research on psychosocial implications and identity formation. A BRIEF HISTORY Medical researchers have long desired to develop ways to remedy hearing loss, seeing this as a means of integrating deaf and hard of hearing individuals into the Author’s note: Significant portions of this chapter incorporate information presented in I. W. Leigh (2009), A lens on deaf identities (New York: Oxford University Press), and I. W. Leigh & D. Maxwell-McCaw (2011), Cochlear implants: Implications for deaf identities, in R. Paludneviciene & I. W. Leigh (Eds.), Cochlear implants: Evolving perspectives (pp. 95–110). (Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press). ara86542_06_ch06.indd 81 ara86542_06_ch06.indd 81 12/10/15 6:56 PM 12/10/15 6:56 PM Irene W. Leigh 82 mainstream of society. Ear trumpets represented an early attempt to amplify hearing ; over time such instruments evolved into hearing aids. These, however, were of limited use for those who were identified as profoundly deaf. Since at least the eighteenth century, efforts to electrically stimulate the ear included attempts to activate the auditory nerve (see Niparko & Wilson [2000] for details). Ear surgeries grew more refined over time but were effective primarily for middle ear issues. Cochlear implantation represents an evolution in this process of providing remedies for those unable to benefit from hearing aids due to inner ear issues. After the initial reports of the actual implantation of electrodes in the cochlea during the 1950s, from France and then the United States, research on the technical and beneficial aspects of cochlear implantation gained momentum (e.g., Blume, 1999; Christiansen & Leigh, 2002/2005; Niparko & Wilson, 2000). Single-channel implantation evolved into multiple-channel implantation, starting in 1984, thereby enhancing auditory capabilities (House & Berliner, 1991; Schindler, 1999). Multichannel cochlear implants are the standard today, and the number of bilateral cochlear implantations is increasing (Christiansen & Leigh, 2011; Roan, 2009). In 1977 France was the site of the first pediatric implantation (Blume, 1999). One of the reasons for researching the effectiveness of cochlear implants in children during the early stages of cochlear implant research was the perception that enhancing hearing during the critical period of language acquisition would facilitate spoken language development (Christiansen & Leigh, 2002/2005). As the deaf communities in various countries, particularly France, Australia, and the United States, became aware of these early cochlear implant efforts, opposition began to grow, based on the premise that deaf people managed to live successful lives and did not need “a repair job” on their ears (see Christiansen & Leigh, 2002/2005, for a review). Though cochlear implantation for deaf adults have become increasingly acceptable with more and more deaf adults getting implanted, considerable resistance to pediatric cochlear implantation by certain deaf community factions still exists (Christiansen & Leigh, 2011), primarily with regard to concerns about social and psychological implications (Christiansen & Leigh, 2002/2005). This is based in large part on the perception of a single-minded focus on spoken language and auditory training, with presumably serious consequences such as language acquisition delays, difficulties in socialization with hearing peers, identity confusion, and lack of in-depth connections with relevant social communities. To speak to the mental health concerns highlighted by opponents of cochlear implantation, the rest of this chapter directly addresses research that explores psychosocial adjustment as well as identity for the population of children and adolescents with cochlear implants. RESEARCH ON PSYCHOSOCIAL ADJUSTMENT An extensive literature explores the medical aspects of cochlear implantation, the evolving technology of the cochlear implant itself, auditory training, auditory ara86542_06_ch06...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781563686559
Related ISBN
9781563686542
MARC Record
OCLC
933515829
Pages
280
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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