Narrator: This is Science Today. As part of a nationwide study, cochlear implants are now available for the first time to people with severe hearing loss. Jan Larky, an audiologist at the University of California, San Francisco says these medical devices, which deliver electric signals to the brain, have only been used in patients with no hearing at all.
Larky: Even though the implant may not give somebody perfect hearing, this implant really has the ability to allow people to connect with other people through communication and most of these people will come in and say I can't communicate with my family. I feel totally isolated socially, because I can't hear them.
Narrator: The cochlear implant makes a great impact on a safety basis, as well.
Larky: Many people live alone and with an implant you can hear if somebody's knocking on your door. Sounds around the house that are normal and not normal. So there's a certain amount of safety that comes from being able to hear.
Narrator: Those interested in this study should contact a local audiologist. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.