What Is a Cochlear Implant?
A cochlear implant is a small hearing device that can help people with profound or severe hearing loss hear again. There are two parts to a cochlear implant: a small piece behind the ear that looks like a hearing aid and a piece that is implanted under the skin surgically. Traditional hearing aids have advanced considerably in the last few years, but they aren’t the right choice for everyone. A small percentage of people with significant hearing loss may need implants.
Who Benefits from Cochlear Implants?
Less than 6 percent of people in America who could benefit from a cochlear implant actually have one. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services more than 188,000 people worldwide have received implants. In the United States, roughly 41,000 adults and 26,000 children have them. Cochlear implants may benefit adults and children who have significant hearing loss or are deaf.
People who lose their hearing as an adult often do well with cochlear implants because they can relate the signal provided by an implant to sounds they remember. With therapy, these adults are often able to understand speech again. Even very young children who experienced significant hearing loss before they acquired language skills are able to learn how to understand and respond to speech after receiving an implant and intensive therapy.
The FDA has a series of requirements to determine who is a good candidate.
For current Cochlear America’s CI users click here for a Remote Check at-home testing tool.
How Do Cochlear Implants Work?
Cochlear implants don’t rely on damaged portions of the ear, they directly stimulate the auditory nerve, which sends signals directly to the brain. This is an entirely different experience of hearing and takes time to become accustomed to. However, for those who have severe hearing loss or are deaf, it can help them function better. Cochlear implants require surgery and a period of intensive therapy after the procedure. The surgery itself is usually done on an outpatient basis in a few hours. You should review your personal medical history with your physician and go over the risks, but many patients find cochlear implants to be life-changing.
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