Every child receives a thorough and individualized assessment to determine if an implant is right for his condition.
How cochlear implants work
A cochlear implant is an electrode that’s placed in the inner ear (cochlea) to bypass the damaged cells. An implant contains two parts:
- External portion: Includes the microphone, speech processor and transmitting coil. The microphone picks up sounds, which are filtered by the speech processor into coded signals. The transmitting coil receives the coded signals and sends them through the skin to the implanted receiver.
- Internal receiver: Electrically activates the electrode array, which stimulates the auditory nerve. Nerve impulses are sent to the brain where they’re interpreted as sound.
Eligibility for an implant
Our multidisciplinary team conducts an extensive cochlear implant evaluation to determine if an implant is right for your child. If your child is a cochlear implant candidate, we’ll help coordinate:
- A computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) evaluation to visualize the inner-ear structure.
- An initial consultation with an ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon after initial audiological and radiological studies have been completed. During the consultation, clinicians will evaluate your child’s overall health, perform a detailed ear evaluation, and review CT or MRI exam results.
- Additional testing as needed, such as psychological, cognitive and speech-language pathology testing. Your child’s ENT surgeon will determine whether additional testing is needed.
- Audiological testing as needed once a specific device has been chosen.
Candidates include children who receive little benefit from hearing aids and are one of the following:
- Between the ages of 12 months and 18 months and have profound hearing loss in both ears
- Between the ages of 18 months and 17 years and have severe to profound hearing loss in both ears
Our team members will meet with you and your child to evaluate him and answer your questions about the implantation process. We consider you and your family as part of our team, and we want you to be well informed. Before scheduling a team evaluation, we require you to enroll your child in an auditory training program.
If your child is a candidate for the cochlear implant and your insurance company provides prior approval, you and your ENT surgeon will schedule the surgery.
Life after the implant
Getting the implant is just the beginning—adjusting to the hearing and speaking world can be difficult. That's why we offer a multidisciplinary approach through a team of otolaryngologists (ear, nose and throat doctors), audiologists (hearing specialists), speech-language pathologists, social workers and child psychiatrists.
After implant surgery, our team members will train your child to use and understand new sounds that he couldn’t hear before with hearing aids. This instruction will give your child the best possible foundation for developing his spoken language skills.
Post-surgical rehabilitation includes:
- Setting speech and language treatment goals, which are specific to the child’s level of listening skills
- Collaboration between audiology and speech services to ensure that your child is getting maximum benefit from the implant
- Mapping the implant to create the best speech outcomes
- Assistance from a speech language pathologist during hearing tests
- Troubleshooting and problem resolution
- In-house inventory of supplies
- Input from teachers and other caregivers
Therapy is family focused, and each session includes parent participation and home program activities. Our cochlear implant team uses an auditory-based approach, which emphasizes listening as the primary mode to develop spoken language skills. We provide ongoing evaluation for your child to determine if he needs additional treatment or services.