NASA Center: Kennedy Space Center
Public Release Year: 2003
Reference Number: KSC-SO-61
Category: Health And Medicine
Origin: Kennedy Space Center Engineering
Driven by his own hearing problem and three failed corrective surgeries, Adam Kissiah started working in the mid-1970s on what would become known as the cochlear implant, a surgically implantable device that provides hearing sensation to persons with severe-to-profound hearing loss who receive little or no benefit from hearing aids. Uniquely, the cochlear implant concept was not based on theories of medicine, as Kissiah had no medical background whatsoever. Instead, he utilized the technical expertise he learned while working as an electronics instrumentation engineer at NASA's Kennedy Space Center for the basis of his invention. This took place over 3 years, when Kissiah would spend his lunch breaks and evenings in Kennedy's technical library, studying the impact of engineering principles on the inner ear. Unlike a hearing aid, which just makes sounds louder, the cochlear implant selects speech signal information and then produces a pattern of electrical pulses in a patient's ear. A microphone picks up sounds and transmits them to a speech processor that converts them into digital signals. In 1977, NASA helped Kissiah obtain a patent for the cochlear implant. In April of 2003, Kissiah was officially inducted into the Space Foundation's U.S. Space Technology Hall of Fame for his invention.
Page Number in Published book: 14-15
Manufacturer: Adam Kissiah