Pearls of Wisdom

Posts for tag: cochlear implant candidacy

When is the right time to think about a Cochlear Implant?

    For people with hearing loss, hearing aids are a great option to gain access to speech and communicate with those around you. But for some, hearing aids are not enough. Some people have too great of a hearing loss that even a hearing aid cannot help. For those people, cochlear implants are possible option.

Most people on the street are familiar with hearing aids. However, many people have likely never heard of a cochlear implant. So what is it? A cochlear implant is a surgical prosthetic to help someone with severe to profound hearing loss. These devices are composed of two parts- an internal and external unit.

The external unit contains a transmitter, microphones, and a speech processor. The microphone and speech processor are housed inside of a device that is similar to a behind-the-ear hearing aid. A cable connects the processor and microphone to the transmitter that attaches to the outside of your head via magnet. The microphone picks up sounds and sends it the speech processor that analyzes and digitizes the signal before sending it to the transmitter. Cochlear Implant Austin, TX Who is a Candidate?

The internal unit is comprised of an electrode array and a receiver. The receiver is located under the skin on the temporal bone. The electrode array is located within the cochlea, or the organ of hearing. The receiver collects the signal sent from the transmitter and converts it to an electrical pulse. This pulse is then sent to the electrode array which then directly stimulates the auditory nerve. This signal then travels the length of the auditory system up the brain where it is processed as sound.

Now surgery may seem scary, but for some, a cochlear implant is a good option to regain functional hearing again.

 

Who is a candidate for a cochlear implant?

  • Adults:

    • Have a moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears
    • Get little to no benefit from hearing aids
    • Have no medical contra-indications that would put them at risk during a surgery
    • Is psychologically ready to undergo the time commitment required with a cochlear implant
  • Children

    • Have a severe to profound hearing loss in both ears
    • Get little to no benefit from hearing aids
    • Have no contra-indications that put them at risk for surgery
    • Have familial and educational support that will emphisize the development of auditory skills


What is the process for getting a cochlear implant?

    

    A potential cochlear implant candidate should talk with their ear, nose, and throat surgeon and their audiologist. From there, the audiologist would perform a candidacy evaluation. This candidacy appointment is completed in the best aided condition, meaning the individual would wear his or her hearing aids for the testing. FDA guidelines must be met that shows the individual is not getting functional benefit from amplification. Once approved for the implant, the individual will undergo a medical exam, imaging studies, and a psychological exam. After the child or adult is determined to be a candidate, he or she will undergo implantation surgery.

    Now a cochlear implant is no walk in the park. Even after getting an implant and “turning it on,” an extensive amount of follow ups must occur to appropriately program this device. Also, practice on the patient’s part must occur that includes at home listening exercises to retrain your brain how to accept an auditory signal again. It can be frustrating at times because progress can be slow.

However, with appropriate follow up and effort on the patient’s part, cochlear implants can allow individuals to rejoin the hearing world again! So do you think you are ready to talk about cochlear implants?

 

For more information contact the Hearing & Balance Center of Austin at Great Hills ENT at (512) 258-2300.