Cochlear Implants

About

A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted device that partially restores hearing in individuals with extreme hearing loss. It differs from a hearing aid, which merely amplifies sounds, in that it replaces improper or non-functioning components of the inner ear. There are two parts of the cochlear implant: the processor and the implant. The processor is the piece outside of the body that picks up sounds, processes them, and sends signals to the implant. The implant is the piece inside the body. It is placed behind and into the ear during surgery and receives signals and sends them to the hearing nerves, bypassing the damaged portions of the inner ear.

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Our Team

Areas of Focus:
Audiology Services, Cochlear Implants
Areas of Focus:
Acoustic Neuroma Surgery, Skull Base Surgery, Chronic Ear Disease, Cochlear Implantation, Hearing Loss

What to Expect

Breakdown of cochlear implant appointments
(Alterations to this schedule may be required based on individual patients)

Pre-Surgery:

  • Cochlear implant evaluation – 1.5 hours
    • Discuss process, perform testing with hearing aids, determine audiologic candidacy
  • Meet with Cochlear Implant Surgeon
    • Determine medical candidacy, discuss surgery
  • Imaging – MRI / CT scan
    • Continued confirmation of medical candidacy
  • Device counseling – 30 minutes
    • Decide upon manufacturer, color, accessories, etc

Surgery

Post-surgery:

  • Post-operative visit with Ear, Nose & Throat provider (2 weeks following surgery)
    • Confirm medical clearance for activation
  • Cochlear implant activation – 2 hours
    • Program processor, turn on device, counsel on process / device
  • One week follow-up - 1 hour
    • Continued counseling / programming. Test progress in sound booth.
  • 1 month follow-up – 1 hour
    • Continued counseling / programming
  • 3 month follow-up – 1 hour
    • Continued counseling / programming. Test progress in sound booth.
  • 6 month follow-up – 1 hour
    • Continued programming. Test progress in sound booth.
  • 12 month follow-up – 1 hour
    • Continued programming. Test progress in sound booth.
  • 18 month follow-up – 1 hour
    • Continued programming. Test progress in sound booth.
  • 24 month follow-up – 1 hour
    • Continued programming. Test progress in sound booth.
  • Annual follow-up – 1 hour
    • Continued programming. Test progress in sound booth.

FAQ

Are cochlear implants a replacement for normal hearing?

No, a cochlear implant is not a replacement for normal hearing. A patient's overall benefit with a cochlear implant will increase with practice at home and dedication to attending appointments. There are programs and resources available for patients to practice listening with their cochlear implant.

How long will it take for me to benefit from a cochlear implant?

The cochlear implant process is long and patients may not perceive benefit from their device until several weeks have passed. Consistent use of the cochlear implant during all waking hours will increase a patient's access to sound.

What makes a patient a successful cochlear implant user?

There are many variables to a patient becoming a “successful” cochlear implant user, including length of time of deafness, anatomy, cause of hearing loss, overall health, and many more. Each person’s outcome will be different than the next.

Is there upkeep or maintenance required for a cochlear implant?

The cochlear implant processor is a physical piece of technology that requires upkeep, similar to a car, cell phone, or appliance. It is necessary that a patient understands basic trouble-shooting of the device and contact the manufacturer when upkeep is required.

Will cochlear implants allow me to hear everything?

Cochlear implants often provide people increased access to communication in face-to-face situations. Use of the cochlear implant on the telephone or in crowded or noisy situations may still be difficult.

Can I improve my hearing with more than one hearing device?

Access to bilateral sound often improves understanding in noise. This may be from two cochlear implants, two hearing aids, or a cochlear implant in one ear and a hearing aid in the other.

What else should I know about the cochlear implant process?

It is important to follow physician and audiologist recommendations. It is the patient's responsibility to discuss areas that they have questions or concerns about with their audiologist or provider.

News & Resources

Tips and reminders about cochlear implants:

  • The cochlear implant process is long. Usually, you will perform and hear the WORST on day one.
  • What you hear from your processor will change on a daily basis in the beginning. The best way to continue to improve is to wear your device as much as possible.
  • Keep in mind – every person is different. How your friend / co-worker performed on day one may be very different from how you will perform. That’s normal. 
  • Listen to different sounds in the environment. It’s useful to have a hearing partner to identify new sounds you’re hearing , as well as converse with you and give you practice.
  • Each time you put your processor on in the morning, it will be louder than when you took it off the night before. You will adjust to the loudness within a few minutes. This will get easier with time.
  • Some people hear more tinnitus (head noise) after they have surgery / take the processor off at night. This is normal.
  • Good ways to practice hearing: read out-loud to yourself; have a conversation partner read the newspaper or a book to you; borrow a “Book on tape/cd” from the library, or download an audio-book. Listen while you follow along; watch television with the captions on, trying to listen to the words; listen to Podcasts or Talk Radio.
  • Every one that has a cochlear implant has an increased risk of meningitis.  The Centers for Disease Control recommends that any one with a cochlear implant be immunized with Pneumovax (age >2 yo) and also Prevnar 13.  For more information go to:  www.cdc.gov and look up the immunization schedule for high-risk individuals.

A few aural rehabilitation or listening practice websites: