Cochlear implants have been available for decades, but just like other forms of technology, they have had significant advancements in the past few years. Cochlear implants are a surgically implanted device used for moderate to profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss or single-sided deafness.
Cochlear implants are usually recommended when a person no longer benefits from a traditional hearing aid. They provide an electronic stimulus to the auditory nerve, which sends the stimulus to the brain for interpretation. Cochlear implants provide a different type of hearing than other forms of hearing devices that amplify the sound and still utilize the cochlea and hair cells to send the signal to the auditory nerve. The sound people experience with a cochlear implant is more electronic and requires auditory therapy to relearn to hear again.
Although all of this may seem very scary and intimidating, the results that people eventually obtain from a cochlear implant when they no longer can hear with a hearing aid are one of the most amazing and emotional developments in the hearing industry. Only someone that knows the suffering of missing out on conversations, family engagement, quality time with loved ones, and just embarrassment associated with profound hearing loss would understand what it means to regain the ability to hear again. As Helen Keller said, “Blindness separates people from things; deafness separates people from people.” It is emotionally isolating to be disconnected from the people you love, and cochlear implants are an easy decision for people that have no other option to hear. There are 3 cochlear implant companies available. These companies are Cochlear, Advanced Bionics and Med El. Our office provides mapping and programming for Cochlear and Advanced Bionics at this time.
A cochlear implant evaluation is required by an audiologist and a cochlear implant surgeon to determine if someone is a cochlear implant candidate. Cochlear implant surgery is a fairly simple outpatient surgery performed in a hospital or surgery center. Once the implant is inserted by the surgeon, the cochlear implant is turned on or activated by the audiologist in 2-4 weeks. Learning to hear with a cochlear implant is gradual, so the implant is usually adjusted and gradually increased several times in the first 6 months. Once the person is set at their optimal settings, appointments are only needed every 6-12 months.
Insurance usually covers the implant surgery and adjustments pending that the cochlear implant evaluation deems a qualified candidate for the surgery. Insurance does not cover “maintenance appointments” for the electronic portion of the implant. This means if a cochlear implant requires cleaning or a new wire, the patient must either contact the cochlear implant company themselves or pay out of pocket for these appointments for the audiologist to assist them.
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If you or someone you know would like to discuss cochlear implants, call or email our office at (423)641-0956 or firstname.lastname@example.org.