Meniere’s disease, an ailment of the inner ear may affect hearing and balance of an individual. Researchers from the University of Washington Medical Center have developed an implantable device that possibly aids in restoring balance of a patient with Meniere’s disease. The device can seemingly benefit patients with common balance disorders.
This newly developed device apparently is a cochlear implant and processor with re-engineered software and electrode arrays. Apart from being very safe, it also appears to be significantly effective. Meniere’s disease probably occurs in adults aged between 30 and 50 years. Most patients report this disorder in one ear and almost 30 percent are bilateral. Episodic attacks experienced in this condition presumably occur from the rupture of an inner-ear membrane. When endolymphatic fluid leaks out of the vestibular system, the brain’s perception of balance may be significantly hindered.
In order to stay away from nausea, patients have to lie still from several hours to even half a day sometimes. When a patient is lying still, the membrane possibly self-repairs and restores equilibrium. First a patient may be subjected to first-line treatments of medication and changes to diet and activity. In case those therapies don’t work, physicians supposedly recommend surgery. Dr. Jay T. Rubinstein, an ear surgeon and auditory scientist and colleagues claim that the implanted device restores the patient’s balance during attacks while leaving natural hearing and residual balance function intact. A processor has to be worn behind the affected ear that activates as an attack starts. Wirelessly the processor may signal the device that has been implanted almost directly underneath in a small well created within the temporal bone.
On acquiring a signal, the device seemingly transmits electrical impulses through three electrodes inserted into canals of the inner ear’s bony labyrinth. It apparently does not involve in the happenings of the ear, but depletes symptoms while replacing the function of that ear until it recovers. The exact placement of the electrodes in the bony labyrinth is presumably ascertained by neuronal signal testing at the time of implant. An electrode array is supposedly provided to each superior semicircular canal, lateral semicircular canal and posterior semicircular canal. The device has been provided to a patient with unilateral Meniere’s disease.
The development of the implantable device was funded by A National Institutes of Health.