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Cochlear Implants

What Is A Cochlear Implant?

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A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted device that provides useful hearing and improved communication ability for persons who have a severe to profound hearing loss, including those with nerve deafness. The function of the cochlea is to gather electrical signals from sound vibrations and transmit them to the auditory nerve (or hearing nerve). When the cochlea is not functioning properly the auditory nerve does not receive stimulation.

Cochlear implants have electrodes or "channels." These electrodes are placed in the cochlea and stimulate the remaining nerve fibers in the ear to transmit signals to the brain. The brain can then interpret these signals as useful sounds.

Who can benefit from a cochlear implant?

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Many people with a severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss, including those with "nerve deafness," have some remaining nerve fibers. Individuals can be tested to find out if these nerve fibers still function. If they do, the individual may benefit from a cochlear implant. General criteria for cochlear implantation are as follows:

  • A severe to profound hearing loss in both ears
  • Receive little or no benefit from hearing aids or other amplification
  • A feeling that being able to hear will help the individual do more and benefit his/her life
  • High motivation and realistic expectations from family
  • Other existing medical conditions won't interfere with cochlear implant procedure

Children who receive a cochlear implant have extensive speech therapy after implantation. There are many different approaches to therapy after implantation. The preferred choice of therapy in our clinic is an oral - aural approach with minimal use of sign language.