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The Cochlear Implant Program provides patients and families with answers to frequently asked questions.
Cochlear implants are appropriate for children 12 months and older with a severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss in both ears.
The benefits vary from person to person. The biggest benefit is that the implant provides access to sound not attainable with hearing aids. With auditory training and speech therapy, many children become very successful communicators with the use of their cochlear implants.
As with any surgical procedure, there is a risk of infection. It is important that the child’s immunizations are up to date and include Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae vaccines. The cochlear implant surgeon will discuss the surgical risks during your child’s appointment.
Learn more about Immunizations and Cochlear Implants.
Once a referral has been made to the Cochlear Implant Team, you will receive a packet including Medical History, Educations Form, and Release of Information. This packet of information must be returned to the Implant Team before evaluation appointments can be scheduled. Please complete and return these so that we can schedule appointments for your child with the rest of the implant team. Once we have your child’s information, we can determine what evaluations need to be completed. These evaluations may include Speech, Audiology, Social Work, Developmental Pediatrics and Medical. Typically, these appointments can be completed over a one- or two-day period.
During the three-month trial period with hearing aids, we require that your child be involved in at least one of these types of therapies to determine the degree of benefit with hearing aids.
Approximately two weeks following surgery, your child will return for the fitting of the external portion of the device and activation of the internal device. The programming of the device occurs over several appointments, allowing your child to adjust to the new stimulation. We will see your child for further adjustments at approximately two weeks and one month following activation. We then see your child for programming (or MAPping) appointments at three-month intervals for the first year. We then plan for six- to 12-month checkups. Speech therapy and aural rehabilitation therapy can begin as soon as your child is fitted with the external device.
The externally worn sound processor (1) of the cochlear implant system looks much like a traditional hearing aid. There is an additional headpiece portion (2) to the device that is not included on hearing aids. The headpiece coil (2) is responsible for sending auditory signals to the internal (implanted) device. Additional pictures and descriptions of the devices can be found on implant manufacturer websites.
The average surgery time is approximately four hours. There may be conditions that would prolong the surgery, such as an additional procedure or bilateral implantation.
Immediately following the surgery, we take your child to the recovery area, where you can be with them when they wake up. You will then stay with us for one night. The bandage on your child’s head must stay in place for 48 hours following the procedure. Most kids are back on their feet and feeling normal the day after surgery, although there may be some initial dizziness associated with the surgery.
A child can resume activities as soon as they feel able. This may vary from child to child. For example, some children receive the implant on Thursday and return to school the following Monday. Others may take longer to feel comfortable returning to their daily activities. It is important that the school is aware of the surgery and allows your child to temporarily refrain from activities such as physical education class and certain playground activities.
Our team surgeon can contact the insurance company directly to request coverage. This is sometimes, but not always, successful. The social worker on the cochlear implant team is also available to provide information on alternative funding sources. In addition, cochlear implant manufacturers have departments designated to deal with this issue.
Hearing aids typically make sounds louder for your child. Hearing aids are often not able to make sounds loud enough for severe to profound hearing losses, as in cases where the cochlea is damaged. A cochlear implant does not make sounds louder, but provides sound directly to the hearing nerve, bypassing the damaged portions of the cochlea.
Yes. Our center prides itself on our team evaluation process; we evaluate the whole child, not just the hearing loss. We have an experienced developmental pediatrician who evaluates each child’s unique skills and challenges. The information gained is helpful in setting appropriate expectations for each child.
Learn more about the evaluation process used to determine whether cochlear implants are an option for your child.
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