FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is a cochlear implant?

The cochlear implant is a prosthetic device, a part of which is surgically implanted inside the cochlea. Cochlear implants have been found to be beneficial for children with severe to profound hearing loss in both ears who do not benefit adequately with hearing aids but have an intact auditory nerve.
While a hearing aid provides amplified sound energy to the ear, the cochlear implant directly provides electrical stimulation to the nerve endings in the cochlea

My child’s hearing aid(s) did not help him/her very much. Will a cochlear implant be better?

It is difficult to predict how each child will do with a cochlear implant, because everyone is different. During the cochlear implant evaluation, the audiologist and/or cochlear implant surgeon can discuss realistic expectations with you. Associated disabilities can also be a deterrent to development of Speech & Language.

What does the surgery involve?

The surgery for the cochlear implant may take about 1-2 hours. The surgeon makes an incision behind the pinna and then surgically implants the electrodes inside the cochlea and the receiver-stimulator are implanted in the mastoid bone behind the ear. The patient may have to remain in hospital for 2-3 days.

Can the implantee hear immediately after surgery ?

After the surgery, one has to wait for the scar to heal. This period is approximately 2 to 3 weeks. During this time, the implantee cannot hear through the implant because the external part is not coupled to it yet. After this healing period is over, the implant and processor are programmed or mapped for the first time. This is called the ‘switch on’.

Will a cochlear implant restore normal hearing in children who are deaf?

No, a cochlear implant does not restore normal hearing. It is a communication tool but not a "cure" for deafness. An implant, supplemented with Speech& Language therapy and Auditory Verbal therapy, can help the children recognize sound, including speech to use it for communication and education purposes.

Are there risks in cochlear implant surgery for children ?

Risk is inherent in any surgery requiring general anesthesia. However, the surgical risks for cochlear implantation are minimal and most patients require only a short period of hospital stay and have no surgical complications. Approximately 5% may have surgical complications

Will my child need more surgery as new technology becomes available?

The implanted unit is designed to last a lifetime. The externally worn speech processor, which is responsible for converting sound into code and sending the information to an internal unit, is dependent on software that can be upgraded as technology improves

Will my child outgrow the internal device and require a new one?

No, the cochlea is fully formed at birth and the skull structures achieve almost full growth by age 2. The electrode array is designed to accommodate skull growth in children

What results can be expected from a cochlear implant?

As with any medical procedure, the results of implantation cannot be predicted prior to surgery and recipients may experience a wide range of outcomes. For individuals who lost their hearing after learning to speak, the perception of speech and sounds after implantation may initially seem quite different from what they had heard before. After using the cochlear implant for several months or more, these individuals often report that they perceive speech to be more natural or closer to their memory of familiar sounds.
While many factors affect outcomes for both children and adults, typically, the younger a child who was born deaf is implanted, the greater the benefit achieved in the areas of speech perception and speech and language development. A predictive factor for implant performance for adults who are deaf is the length of time between the onset of deafness and implantation; those with the shortest duration of deafness tend to experience better outcomes ie. early age implantation yields better outcome.

Once the child receives an implant, is she/he finished with the process?

Wearing a cochlear implant is a lifetime commitment, and requires the recipient to maintain and care for the implant. After an individual receives the implant, he or she must return to the center for a number of follow-up services, including the fitting of the external components of the implant; activating and programming of the implant and its microphone, speech processor and transmitter; necessary adjustments and reprogramming, and annual check-ups. In addition, recipients must undergo rehabilitation services with members of the team. Children often require years of extensive aural rehabilitation whereas adults who have been implanted due to acquired deafness may need fewer aural rehabilitation sessions.

Can children with cochlear implants identify environmental noises as well as speech?

Cochlear implants provide a wide range of sound information. Performance in speech perception testing varies among individuals. With time and training, most patients understand more speech than with hearing aids and many communicate by telephone or enjoy music.

Can children with cochlear implants swim, shower and participate in sports?

Yes, people with implants can swim, shower and participate in virtually all types of sport activities when they are not wearing the external equipment. Just as you would remove your hearing aids, you would take off the outside components (the processor and headpiece) before going swimming or getting your hair wet. Participation in all other athletic activities is unrestricted, although protective headgear is always recommended.

Can the sound processor be removed at night?

Yes. But you should turn it off to save the battery. Some users wear the sound processor all night so they can hear

How long does it take the child to get maximum benefit from a cochlear implant?

It depends on how long your child has been without hearing. It depends on whether your child lost the hearing before the acquisition of speech and language or after. However, there is a rapid rise in the child’s ability to interpret the sounds after receiving an implant.

What sounds can be heard with a cochlear implant?

Your child will probably hear most sounds of medium-to-high loudness. Patients often report that they can hear footsteps, slamming of doors, ringing telephones car engines, barking dogs, crackers, and various other environmental sounds.

Can my child’s X-ray or CT scan possible with cochlear implant?

Yes! These procedures can be safely done with your child’s cochlear implant. You should take off external parts (processor and headpiece).

Can a MRI be done with cochlear implant?

Yes, with restrictions. The cochlear implant internal device has a magnet that can be removed so that you can go through certain MRI machines. If you need to have a MRI, discuss your options with your Doctor/CI centre.

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