Cochlear implants are medical devices that mimic natural hearing by bypassing damaged hair cells in the cochlea to stimulate the hearing nerve unlike hearing aids, which simply make sound louder. FDA-approved cochlear implants have become recognized as an established medical treatment that helps to restore hearing in adults and children over 12 months who have certain types of severe to profound hearing loss. The implants have increasingly become a solution for people who no longer receive benefits from hearing aids.
There are two basic types of Cochlear Implant configurations based on the patients need. The Hybrid Cochlear Implant is for those with relatively good hearing (mild hearing loss) in the lower frequencies with more significant (severe) hearing loss in the higher frequencies.
For those individuals with moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears, that receive little or no benefits from hearing aids, Cochlear Implants are an available option.
The following overview explains the Cochlear Implant process.
Phase 1 – Candidacy
You will need to visit us to determine if you are a candidate for a cochlear implant. This initial appointment may either be with Dr. Slater or the audiologist. If you see Dr. Slater for the initial appointment, then you will see the audiologist at a follow up appointment, or vice-versa. The audiologist will conduct a series of hearing tests to help determine your candidacy for the cochlear implant. We will gather your insurance information and work with your insurance company to determine your coverage benefits. Cochlear implants are usually covered by most insurance plans and Medicare.
Phase 2 – Surgery
Cochlear implant surgery is an outpatient procedure that typically takes 2 – 4 hours to complete. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia.
Phase 3 – Activation
Recovery time is normally 2 – 4 weeks after surgery. You will then have an appointment with the audiologist to activate your new cochlear implant. You will begin to hear sounds through your new cochlear implant for the first time. It will vary from person to person how well you will hear. This is dependent on the degree of your hearing loss and how long you have had a hearing loss.
Phase 4 – Rehabilitation
As with any surgical procedure, you will need rehabilitation. You will have several appointments over the first few months to help you retrain your brain to understand the sounds and to make fine tuning adjustments to your sound processor. Your audiologist will give you some tools so that you can continue to practice at home.