If you broke your leg, would you use crutches?
If you had trouble seeing, would you use glasses?
If you had trouble hearing, would you use hearing aids?
You hear with your brain and NOT with your ears. Your ears are just a vehicle in which to transport sound information to the brain. If there is any type of damage or occlusion within the ear, then sound will not reach the brain to be processed. The brain receives the sound information from the cochlea, in order to interpret what it “hears.” The brain then processes this information, stores it, in order to recall it at a later time. The longer one goes depriving the brain of sound, the more difficulty they have of processing what they “hear.” An example of this processing ability would be if someone told you to “go to the store to pick up milk, cookies, bread, and fruit.” First, you would need to “hear” all the sounds in each word in order to know what the words were, and then be able to remember what you needed to purchase at the store, without writing it down.
Hearing loss can cause auditory deprivation. Auditory deprivation refers to a lack of adequate hearing stimulation. With auditory deprivation, the brain gradually loses some of its processing ability. Several investigations have shown that people with binaural hearing loss, who do not utilize amplification, or only use one hearing aid, experience a reduction in their ability to understand speech.
There have been many studies done on auditory deprivation to determine the long-term effects on the brain. These studies suggest that if the brain is not stimulated, the potential to “forget” how to hear is great and is closely related to the length of time the brain goes without stimulation. The longer the patient goes without treatment/amplification the more likely the brain will forget how understand speech. These findings suggest that it is important to seek appropriate treatment in a timely manner, if the brain is to maintain its ability to understand speech.