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November 2015 Australian Ageing Agenda Technology Review

Age is not a barrier to having a cochlear implant fitted to treat hearing loss but only 8 per cent of adults who would benefit from an implant have one, a gerontology conference has heard. While cochlear implants are well-known for providing hearing in children who are born deaf, the technology is increasingly being used to restore hearing in adults with acquired deafness, Associate Professor Catherine Birman told the Australian Association of Gerontology conference. Dr Birman, who is medical director of the Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre (SCIC), said surgery was well-tolerated and speech outcomes were impressive in those aged over 70, many of whom were also successfully participating in follow up rehabilitation via telehealth.

However, more awareness was needed among this cohort on the benefits, which include reduced isolation, depression and progression of dementia, she said.

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