FAQ Cochlear Implant

1.  How does a Cochlear Implant work?

Sound signals are collected by an audio processor (external portion) and are sent to the implant located underneath the skin behind the ear. An electrode array that is surgically implanted in the inner ear stimulates the nerve to allow the user to hear.

2. What are the Cochlear Implants parts and how do they work?

External parts include a microphone, a speech processor, and a transmitter.

(i) The microphone looks like a behind-the-ear hearing aid. It picks up sounds—just like a hearing aid microphone does—and sends them to the speech processor.

(ii) The speech processor may be housed with the microphone behind the ear, or it may be a small box-like unit typically worn in a chest pocket. The speech processor is a computer that analyzes and digitizes the sound signals and sends them to a transmitter worn on the head just behind the ear.

(iii) The transmitter sends the coded signals to an implanted receiver just under the skin.

The internal (implanted) parts include a receiver and electrodes.

  • The receiver is just under the skin behind the ear. The receiver takes the coded electrical signals from the transmitter and delivers them to the array of electrodes that have been surgically inserted in the cochlea.
  • The electrodes stimulate the fibers of the auditory nerve, and sound sensations are perceived.

3. What is the difference between a hearing aid and a Cochlear Implant?

While hearing aids amplify sounds to a level audible for people with hearing impairment, cochlear implants bypass damaged portions of the ear, directly stimulating the auditory nerve.

4. Who is eligible to receive an implant?

In general, adults who have severe to profound hearing loss in both the ears and have benefited only minimally from hearing aids may qualify as candidates for cochlear implantation. Children as young as 12 months of age, who have severe to profound hearing loss in both ears and who demonstrate little progress in the development of auditory skills may also be considered potential candidates for implant devices.

5. What are the tests needed to determine if one needs a Cochlear Implant?

The first step is to contact an Otologist (ENT Specialist) and an Audiologist who offers cochlear implantation for evaluation. Candidacy evaluation involves assessment by several professionals. Assessments includeAudiological, Radiological, Psychological, Medical, Speech and language, Optholmologic, Peadiatric and other evaluations based on the history.

6. Where can one receive an implant?

There are very few centers in the country where teams of professionals work with individuals to determine implant candidacy, perform surgery, and provide follow-up care. Because of the level of commitment required, implant candidates should consider several factors in choosing an implant center, including the experience of the staff in working with implant recipients and the center’s proximity and accessibility.

7. Is my child too young to receive a Cochlear Implant?

Studies have shown that children implanted at an early age often have a distinct advantage in speech and language development. These children develop age appropriate speech and language at a faster rate when given appropriate auditory habilitation.

8. I am 75 years old. Am I too old for a Cochlear Implant?

There are no age restrictions for receiving a Cochlear Implant. Learning to use your new ears is a process. Willingness to participate in rehabilitation programs to develop listening skills is important for every candidate. Age of implantation is dependent on the individual patient, the advice of the doctors and local practitioners. Age related hearing loss that does not get benefit even from the most powerful hearing aids can be considered for CI.

9. Once an individual receives an implant, is he/she finished with the process?

The implant accounts to only 20% of the entire process. Wearing a Cochlear Implant is a lifetime commitment, and requires the recipient to maintain and care for the implant. There is a continuous relationship established between the Surgeons, audiologists, therapist and the recipient.