DRDO develops a new indigenous, affordable cochlear implant

‘A highly complex system requiring extensive research, it is developed only by few nations'

February 05, 2012 11:24 am | Updated November 17, 2021 05:56 am IST - NEW DELHI:

“The Defence Research and Development Organisation [DRDO] has developed an indigenous and affordable cochlear implant which will be available for clinical trials within four months,” said former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam here on Saturday.

He was speaking at the inauguration of a workshop on ‘Transcanal Technique for Cochlear Implants' at Dr. B. L. Kapur Memorial Super Speciality Hospital.

Final laboratory evaluation

“Cochlear implant is a highly complex system requiring extensive research. Owing to this, the implant could only be developed by few countries. In India, the Naval Science and Technological Laboratory [NSTL] at Visakhapatnam, which is a unit of DRDO, has taken the lead and developed this cochlear implant which is undergoing final laboratory evaluation,” said Dr. Kalam.

Appreciation from Kalam

He also appreciated the work being done by other centres and noted that after multicentre trials at five centres across the country, the indigenous cochlear implant will go into production.

The former President also urged volunteer cochlear implant specialist doctors to come forward to take on the societal mission of implanting indigenously developed system.

The cochlear implant is a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing due to loss of sensory hair cells in their cochlea. In India, there are nearly a million people who need cochlear implants. Every year, about 9,000 to 10,000 children are born deaf.

Unfortunately, the imported cochlear implant is very expensive and priced at Rs. 7 lakh to Rs. 10 lakh, which only the affluent can afford.

DRDO (Headquarters) Chief Controller and Chief Designer of the indigenous cochlear implant V. Bhujanga Rao gave a presentation covering details of the Indian design.

The inspiration

“We took the inspiration for taking up this indigenous development from the former President himself, who monitored and encouraged the team throughout the various stages of development,” Dr. Rao said.

The workshop was organised by the hospital's Professor J. M. Hans, a pioneer in cochlear implantation who has done more than 600 implant surgeries in the country.

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