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Integrity evaluation system in an implantable hearing prosthesis

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Integrity evaluation system in an implantable hearing prosthesis


An implantable hearing prosthesis, comprising an integrated integrity system. The integrity system is configured to measure one or more electrical characteristics of at least one component of the prosthesis, to evaluate the integrity of the prosthesis based on the measurements, and to perform at least one diagnostic operation based on the evaluation.

Inventors: Herbert Mauch, Peter Seligman, Barry Nevison, Paul Carter
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120300953 - Class: 381 60 (USPTO) - 11/29/12 - Class 381 
Electrical Audio Signal Processing Systems And Devices > Monitoring/measuring Of Audio Devices >Testing Of Hearing Aids

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120300953, Integrity evaluation system in an implantable hearing prosthesis.

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BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to implantable hearing prosthesis, and more particularly, to an integrity testing system in an implantable hearing prosthesis.

2. Related Art

Implantable hearing prostheses include implantable hearing aids, cochlear implants, optically stimulating implants, middle ear stimulators, bone conduction devices, brain stem implants, direct acoustic cochlear stimulators, electro-acoustic devices and other devices providing acoustic, mechanical, optical, and/or electrical stimulation to an element of a recipient\'s ear. Such devices are subject to failure or malfunctions due to, for example, manufacturing defects, degradation of materials over time or changes in the recipients inner-ear function. If an issue is reported with a conventional implantable hearing prosthesis, an appointment is required with a health care professional, referred to herein as clinician, at a clinic where a number of tests are carried out to test the integrity of the prosthesis, and to determine the source of the failure. These tests are performed using specialist integrity testing equipment, and are performed in a reactive manner. That is, such testing is only performed after a recipient or user has indicated that there may be a problem with the hearing prosthesis, such as a decrease in hearing performance or other non-auditory symptoms that reduce device effectiveness.

The clinician who performs such testing is generally a specialist who is trained to use specialized integrity testing equipment. As such, the testing is generally expensive and time-consuming procedure for all involved. Furthermore, because device problems may be intermittent, the test results may be inconclusive, provide a false positive (false conclusion that the device is working correctly), and/or require subsequent additional follow-up testing to determine the nature of the problem.

SUMMARY

In one aspect of the present invention, an implantable hearing prosthesis is provided. The prosthesis comprises: an integrated integrity system configured to measure one or more electrical characteristics of at least one component of the prosthesis, to evaluate the integrity of the prosthesis based on the measurements, and to perform at least one diagnostic operation based on the evaluation.

In another embodiment of the present invention, a method for evaluating the integrity of an implantable hearing prosthesis is provided. The method comprises: measuring one or more electrical characteristics of at least one component of the prosthesis; determining, based on the measurements, if there is error in the operation of the prosthesis; and performing at least one diagnostic operation to determine whether there is an error in the operation of the prosthesis.

In a still other embodiment of the present invention, an implantable hearing prosthesis is provided. The prosthesis comprises: means for measuring one or more electrical characteristics of at least one component of the prosthesis; means for determining, based on the measurements, if there is an error in the operation of the prosthesis; and means for performing at least one diagnostic operation to determine whether there is an error in the operation of the prosthesis.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Embodiments of the present invention will be described with reference to the drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a schematic block diagram illustrating an implantable hearing prosthesis having an integrated integrity system therein, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 2 illustrates a method of assessing the integrity of an implantable hearing prosthesis, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 3 are graphs of a normalized variable bi-polar impedance measurement matrix, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 4 are graphs of a representation of a normalized variable bi-polar impedance measurement matrix, by common distance from the active electrode, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 5 illustrates a portion of an electrode array and a model of the resistance values present when insulation breakdown occurs, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 6 graphs a normalized representation of a variable bi-polar impedance measurement matrix of a cochlea which is partially ossified, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention; and

FIG. 7 illustrates a method of self-correcting escalation in an integrity system or method, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Embodiments of the present invention are generally directed to an implantable hearing prosthesis comprising an integrated system that is configured to evaluate the integrity or operational performance of the prosthesis. This integrated system, referred to herein as an integrity evaluation system or simply integrity system, is configured to measure one or more electrical characteristics of a component of the prosthesis. The system evaluates the integrity of the prosthesis based on these measurements, and performs at least one diagnostic operation based on the evaluation. In one embodiment, the diagnostic operation is a notification of an error identified during the evaluation. In another embodiment, the diagnostic operation is an adjustment of one or more of settings in the device to correct an error identified during the evaluation.

The integrity system uses one or more of a number of different measurements to evaluate whether the prosthesis is operating as desired. In particular, the voltage of the power supply, the electrode voltage and/or the electrode impedance, is measured and used to evaluate the operational performance.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20120300953 A1
Publish Date
11/29/2012
Document #
13114733
File Date
05/24/2011
USPTO Class
381 60
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
04R29/00
Drawings
6



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