In the 1960s, Adam Kissiah began to
experience hearing loss. As a NASA engineer, he had education and
experience in electronics and became self motivated to study and
research the disciplines of hearing and acoustics. The Kennedy Space
Center Library provided a wealth of resources sources for study in the
fields of both hearing and acoustics, and through his research and
development, he proposed a design for the successful transmission of
“intelligence” to the hearing center of the human brain.
With NASA's assistance, Adam obtained
United States Patent # 4,063,048
(Reissue 31,031) for an Implantable Electronic Hearing Aid
that provided the basic engineering specification for all Cochlear
Implants. Widely in use today, Cochlear Implants are surgically implanted electronic devices that restore
the ability to hear sound and understand speech. The implant is a
prosthetic replacement that circumvents damaged cells, providing direct
stimulation to hearing nerve fibers in the inner ear.
Subsequent to the Patent issuance,
Kissiah signed an Agreement with Biostim, Inc. to develop and market the
Implantable Hearing Aid, resulting in the development of an
experimental Cochlear Implant, and associated approval by the Food and
Drug Administration for experimental human implantation.
Due to many legal and financial considerations associated with company
size and name recognition, with respect to attracting research and
investment funds, it was deemed necessary to become more closely
associated with established Medical R & D Institutions. This caused
eventual dissolution of Biostim, Inc. and a disbursement of key
personnel into the medical development community.
Adam Kissiah remained in his career employment with the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Since this time, numerous hearing aid
manufacturers have applied Kissiah’s patented concept to their cochlear
implant products. As Adam himself puts it, the cochlear implant
“only works one way.”
The Cochlear Implant Association
estimates over 66,000 patients have received an implant, creating what
is today a $1.65 billion industry. The American Speech-Language-Hearing
Association further states that cochlear implantation consistently ranks
among the most cost-effective medical procedures ever reported.
However, Adam did not benefit financially from the success of the product, and has
only recently begun to receive long overdue recognition (see below).
the midst of the recognition surrounding his invention, Adam Kissiah has remained extremely humble about his role. "Regardless
of what level of participation I had, it is nice to know I contributed
to making many lives better,” he said.
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