Australian company Cochlear Ltd continues to lead the world in the development, manufacture and sale of cochlear implants and associated speech processors that enable recipients with severe or profound hearing loss to hear speech and other sounds. This is an Australian innovation for which by 2003, over fifty thousand people in more than 120 countries had received implants. In that year, the inventor of the implant, Professor Graeme Clark, received the rare honour of being made a Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine.
The self-curling electrode array is the main innovation embodied in this product, relative to earlier cochlear implants. The array is designed to fit the shape of the average human cochlea; it is straightened during surgery to insert it through a small incision, but it retains memory of its shape and curls to sit against the inner wall of the cochlea. This allows surgery to be less invasive than previously, when positioning bands were needed.
Debbie Rudder, Curator, 2003