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Learning to Listen
In recent years, there have been great advances in the technology of hearing aids. Cochlear implants have become commonplace in many parts of the world, and digital hearing aids have eclipsed their analogue counterparts in common usage. Hearing aids have certainly come a long way, from the days of ear trumpets. The following is a timeline of key developments in the advance of hearing aid technology.
• 1550 – The theory of bone conduction through teeth was developed by Girolamo Cardano.
• 1558 – Giovanni Batista Porta described some of the earliest hearing aids in his book Natural Magick. They are shaped like the ears of animals known for their acute hearing abilities.
• 1724 – A postmaster from Versailles, hoping to cure his own deafness, discovered Eustachian Tube Catheterization.
• 1878 – Emil Berthold first described the surgical repair of a perforated tympanic membrane, which eventually became known as Myringoplasty.
• 1898 – The first commercial hearing aid is introduced in America by The Dictograph Company.
• 1912 – F.H. Quix developed a procedure known as Translabrynthine Labrynthectomy, an early treatment for hearing loss.
• 1938 – Julius Lempert published the first results of his Fenestration operation to treat Otosclerosis.
• 1952 – The first transistor hearing aids are developed. These were hybrid systems with both vacuum tubes and transistors being employed.
• 1953 – The Zeiss Optical Company introduced the first microscope specially designed for Otologic surgery.
• 1961 – Neurosurgeon John Doyle Jr. and Otologist William House performed the first microsurgical acoustic neuroma surgery using an operating microscope.
• 1984 – The United States Food and Drug Administration approved the first cochlear implants for marketing to adults.
• 1990 – The cochlear implants are approved for use in children by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
Since the late 1990’s, many more advances have been made in hearing aid technology. There are now many companies that offer highly advanced digital hearing aids. The technology has become refined to the point where hearing aids are now contained completely within the ear canal, and are programmed according to the needs of the individual user. These developments have given the gift of hearing to a generation of people. Let us be ever mindful of the pioneers of this important work, as their learning afforded many people the opportunity to listen.
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