A cochlear implant is a sophisticated hearing device used for people with profound hearing loss that is not effectively treated with hearing aids. Someone with severe or profound hearing loss who is not getting the desired result may want to discuss this option with their physicians or audiologist. What are cochlear implants?

These small devices have four main components. The microphone, sound processor, and transmitter system are the external components of the cochlear implant. The receiver and its electrode system are surgically implanted. The external components are often held in place on top of the implanted receiver by a magnet.

Though people may mistakenly think that a cochlear implant is a powerful, implanted hearing aid, cochlear implants work much differently than hearing aids. A hearing aid amplifies sound and delivers the sound though the ear canal just like a person with normal hearing receives sound. A cochlear implant directly stimulated the auditory nerve. Therefore, if the cochlea, inner ear, is damaged, an implant may provide some hearing benefit.

A cochlear implant does not restore the person’s hearing to normal. However, people who have severe or profound hearing loss may not get any or enough benefit from even the strongest hearing aids. Both children and adults with severe hearing loss may have the option of having better hearing with cochlear implants. Children who have struggled with communication skills may be able to improve their communication and social skills with the use of cochlear implants.

People who receive cochlear implants often have to have therapy to adjust to hearing with implants. This therapy may be done by an audiologist or speech therapist. Therapy to relearn hearing can be time consuming and may last a significant amount of time.

When determining if a cochlear implant is the best treatment for an individual with severe or profound hearing loss, many factors are considered. The age of the patient, how long the person has been deaf, the patient’s supports available in aiding the transition and relearning of hearing, and how quickly the patient learns are some of the factors considered. The financial considerations and insurance coverage may be factors in the decision to get cochlear implants.