What Happens After My Child's Surgery?

Recovery, Rehabilitation and Cochlear Implant Activation

The internal part of the implant is not visible after surgery. Your child’s hair will have been shaved in the area where the incision was made during surgery. The bandage that is placed over the incision at the end of surgery will remain on the head overnight and is changed the next day. This bandage will remain on your child’s head for several days. 

After the incision behind the ear heals, a slight bump may remain. This is covered by your child’s hair. Depending on the hair’s length, more or less of the external portion of the device will be visible. 

Typically, children bounce back from cochlear implant surgery very quickly. Usually it involves an overnight stay in the hospital and an additional week at home to let the incision site heal. Children usually return to school after one week; however, physical activity should be limited for three weeks.

The weeks after surgery

Your child will see his ear, nose and throat surgeon, who will inspect the incision site. Approximately three to six weeks after your child’s surgery, you will receive the external portion of the implant. During this visit you will meet with the cochlear implant audiologist for the initial stimulation (activating the implant) and your child will hear for the first time. The external equipment will be programmed by the team audiologist through a computer. Each patient’s unique program is called a “map” and enables your child to achieve the maximum benefit. 

Enhanced hearing

Once your child receives the implant, he will be able to hear sounds that he was previously unable to hear with hearing aids. Although your child will hear more sounds, he will need to be trained to use and understand these sounds. 

Receiving a cochlear implant is simply the first step in a long process. Your child will only learn the meaning of sounds and words through intensive rehabilitation. The degree of success he will have in developing listening and speech skills cannot be predicted; however, with proper auditory training and listening therapy, your child will have the best chance of being a successful implant user. 

The audiologist will determine the schedule of follow-up visits based on your child’s individual needs.

Rehabilitation process

Rehabilitation includes:

  • Speech/language treatment goals, which are specific to the child’s level of listening skills
  • Collaboration between audiology and speech services for each child to ensure that he is getting maximum benefit from the implant
  • Implant mapping that relates to outcomes for speech
  • Assistance from a speech language pathologist during hearing tests
  • Troubleshooting and problem resolution
  • In-house inventory of supplies
  • Input from teachers and other caregivers is welcomed

For children with multiple needs or who demonstrate additional challenges in acquiring spoken language, training using assistive technology or a total communication approach, which incorporates sign language, is available at Children’s.

School support

Audiologists work closely with each child’s school both during the evaluation process and after implantation. All available audiological records are reviewed and incorporated as possible. The audiologist and the schools communicate regularly and work together to help your child succeed with the cochlear implant.