Cochlear Implants

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Cochlear Implants

Cochlear implants are prosthetic devices that provide hearing for persons with severe to profound hearing loss who receive little or no benefit from hearing aids. Tiny wires (electrodes) are surgically inserted into the cochlea (an organ of hearing). The cochlear implant converts sound energy into electrical signals and stimulates the auditory nerve.

How a Cochlear Implant Works?

A cochlear implant goes on both the outside and inside of your head. These parts work together to help you notice sounds.

External, or outside, parts: You will wear a device that looks like a hearing aid behind your ear. It has a microphone that picks up sounds and sends them to a speech processor. The speech processor turns the sounds into a digital signal.

External Parts

The speech processor sends the signal to a transmitter. This device goes on your head, behind your ear. The transmitter sends the signal to a receiver under your skin. A magnet holds the two together.

Internal, or inside, parts: The receiver is under the skin behind your ear. It sends the signals to electrodes in your inner ear, or cochlea. The electrodes trigger the auditory nerve. This lets your brain notice the incoming sounds.

Internal Parts

Who Can Get a Cochlear Implant?

Cochlear implants will not work for everyone. They may work for adults who:

  • Have severe to profound hearing loss in both ears
  • Have found that hearing aids do not help them
  • Have no other medical problems that would make surgery risky
  • Want to be able to listen, speak, and speech read
  • Started to talk before they lost their hearing

Children can also get cochlear implants. They may work best for children who:

  • Have profound hearing loss in both ears
  • Where not helped by hearing aids
  • Have no medical problems that would make surgery risky?
  • Will be able to get treatment to work on hearing skills

If your child is old enough, it is helpful if he/she can:

  • Be a part of all the steps in the process
  • Understand what he/she needs to do to use the cochlear implants
  • Understand what the implants can and cannot do for her hearing
  • Be ready to work on his/her hearing and speech skills

It is important that your child has your support. This will help him have success with the cochlear implants.



NRT - Neural Response Telemetry (Intraoperative / Postoperative measurement)

The NRT provides a simple way to directly record neural responses. Information from NRT gives the audiologist or surgeon confirmation that the cochlear implant is effectively stimulating the hearing nerve fibres in the inner ear and all conveniently measured within minutes. This is non-invasive, objective, and quicker and does not require sedation or the use of external recording electrodes. NRT can be performed during the cochlear implant surgery and at the follow-up appointments any time after surgery.

Switch On

Three weeks after the surgery, the audiologist will give your child the external device (speech processor and coil). It is the first mapping of the processor.


NRT - Neural Response Telemetry Mapping is the term for programming a cochlear implant to the specifications and needs of its user. MAPs are programs that help to optimize the cochlear implant user’s access to sound by adjusting the input to the electrodes on the array that is implanted into the cochlea. While each cochlear implant company has different terminology, different programming strategies, and different capacities for various MAPs on their processors, the basic ideas behind MAPping hold true for all three FDA-approved brands.

Trouble shooting

It is not possible for parents and teachers to listen to a child’s cochlear implant as one would listen to a hearing aid; however, there are other checks of the equipment that should be completed by an audiologist.

Benefits Of Cochlear Implants

For people with implants:

  • Hearing ranges from near normal ability to understand speech to no hearing benefit at all.
  • Adults often benefit immediately and continue to improve for about 3 months after the initial tuning sessions. Then, although performance continues to improve, improvements are slower. Cochlear implant users' performances may continue to improve for several years.
  • Children may improve at a slower pace. A lot of training is needed after implantation to help the child use the new 'hearing' he or she now experiences.
  • Most perceive loud, medium and soft sounds. People report that they can perceive different types of sounds, such as footsteps, slamming of doors, sounds of engines, ringing of the telephone, barking of dogs, whistling of the tea kettle, rustling of leaves, the sound of a light switch being switched on and off, and so on.
  • Many understand speech without lip-reading. However, even if this is not possible, using the implant helps lip-reading.
  • Many can make telephone calls and understand familiar voices over the telephone. Some good performers can make normal telephone calls and even understand an unfamiliar speaker. However, not all people who have implants are able to use the phone.
  • Many can watch TV more easily, especially when they can also see the speaker's face. However, listening to the radio is often more difficult as there are no visual cues available.
  • Some can enjoy music. Some enjoy the sound of certain instruments (piano or guitar, for example) and certain voices. Others do not hear well enough to enjoy music.