Design of a Semi-Implantable Hearing Device for Direct Acoustic Cochlear Stimulation
A new hearing therapy based on direct acoustic cochlear stimulation was developed for the treatment of severe to profound mixed hearing loss. The device efficacy was validated in an initial clinical trial with four patients. This semi-implantable investigational device consists of an externally worn audio processor, a percutaneous connector, and an implantable microactuator. The actuator is placed in the mastoid bone, right behind the external auditory canal. It generates vibrations that are directly coupled to the inner ear fluids and that, therefore, bypass the external and the middle ear. The system is able to provide an equivalent sound pressure level of 125 dB over the frequency range between 125 and 8000 Hz. The hermetically sealed actuator is designed to provide maximal output power by keeping its dimensions small enough to enable implantation. A network model is used to simulate the dynamic characteristics of the actuator to adjust its transfer function to the characteristics of the middle ear. The geometry of the different actuator components is optimized using finite-element modeling.