A woman with a cochlear implant

If you or your child has profound hearing loss and a hearing aid isn’t sufficient, your doctor may recommend a cochlear implant. Having an implant can be a big adjustment, so in today’s blog we want to discuss some of the ways you may have to adjust your lifestyle if one is recommended for you.

What is a cochlear implant?

Cochlear implants are devices that provide electrical stimulation to the cochlear nerve, which helps the patient hear. Unlike a hearing aid, part of the cochlear implant is placed inside the cochlea, which stimulates the cochlear nerve that leads to the auditory cortex in the brain. Cochlear implants consist of an external piece and an internal piece. The internal portion of the device is implanted into the cochlea during a two- or three-hour surgical procedure. Four weeks later, the external piece (known as the sound processor) is programmed and placed on the head in order to send information to the internal component.

Cochlear implants are available to people of all ages, including babies who have significant hearing loss and limited access to traditional hearing aids. Hearing loss has a significant impact on a child’s life, particularly the development of their speech and language, which in turn significantly impacts their social and academic success.

Do you have to wear the external processor to hear sound?

Yes, the external portion must be worn to decode and send sounds from the environment to the internal component. It is important to understand that when the external sound processor is not worn, the individual does not hear with the implanted ear. Only when the external piece is worn can sound be transmitted successfully to the inner component, which stimulates the hearing nerve and sends sound to the brain.

Can you wear the cochlear implant all the time?

It is recommended that the device be worn during all waking hours. Consistent use of the device ensures that the brain is receiving proper auditory stimulation at all times. With that said, most sound processors are not waterproof and must be taken off when bathing or swimming, Dr. Green said. It is also recommended that the sound processor be removed at bedtime to avoid physical soreness or irritation at the connection site.

Can you talk on the phone with a cochlear implant?

Communication via telephone is often challenging for cochlear implant recipients, although it is possible. Phone conversation can be challenging due to many factors. Acoustically, the telephone signal has a more limited frequency band than a typical speech signal, leading to a distorted sound quality when the voice is transmitted to the cochlear implant. In addition, the inability to use visual cues when talking on the phone can make understanding phone conversations difficult. With that said, the cochlear implant companies are aware of these challenges and have developed features and accessories to promote better speech understanding on the telephone.

Getting a cochlear implant can be a big change in your life, but the audiologists at CEENTA are happy to guide you through this transition.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. Do you need an appointment with an audiologist? Call 704-295-3000.


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