What is a Cochlear Implant?
A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted hearing device used for people who have a permanent hearing loss, and who no longer benefit from conventional hearing aids. While hearing aids optimise incoming sound using existing hearing pathways, a cochlear implant bypasses the damaged part of the ear and directly stimulates the auditory (hearing) nerve.
- The implant is placed by your ENT surgeon under the skin behind your ear. This is connected to an electrode array which is carefully positioned in your inner ear (cochlea) to electrically stimulate the auditory nerve.
- The externally worn sound processor detects sound in your environment and processes this information to optimise speech for improved understanding and communication.
An electroacoustic cochlear implant may be recommended for people with steeply sloping permanent hearing loss (i.e., good access to low frequency (pitch) information and poor access in the mid to high frequencies). This hearing loss configuration can have a significant impact on speech understanding and communication. An electroacoustic implant will use the cochlear implant array to process mid to high frequency information and combine this with optimised natural low frequency information using the acoustic component of the device. This may provide a more “natural” sound quality. Should one’s low frequency hearing decrease at any time, the entire electrode array can be activated to optimise hearing.
Post-implant audiological care is critical to the success of cochlear implantation.
Approximately 2 weeks following surgery, we will fit your sound processor and you will hear through your cochlear implant for the first time (we call this your “Switch-On appointment”).
A series of appointments will then follow during the first two months to help you adjust to the new electrical stimulation. The most significant changes occur in the first few weeks and months; these are both with the programming, the function of the internal array, and with the brain as it becomes more comfortable with, and begins to make sense of, the new electrical stimulation it is receiving. During this period, we work to achieve optimal audibility and speech understanding, along with supporting you to become confident in managing your device.
Once your program stabilises, refinements can be made to optimise your perception of music, and speech understanding in more complex listening environments as well as the use of any assistive technology.
Continued device management and monitoring of your progress is important to ensure your access to auditory information, appropriate device (internal and external) function and that your cochlear implant meets any changing communication goals.
Rehabilitation is an important part of All Ears & Speech’s post-operative care.
Learning to listen with a cochlear implant is not a quick process. A cochlear implant recipient will need to learn to listen again using a completely different sound. The first step involves becoming aware of sound using the new device. Following meaning is associated to this new sound. Recipients will then progress through a hierarchy of auditory skills, supported by their audiologist and/or speech pathologist, family, and friends. You will need to practice, persevere and be patient in allowing your brain time to get used to the new signal. Progress is highly dependent on your initial audiology presentation, history, duration of deafness, support, and motivation.
The team at All Ears & Speech will work collaboratively with you, and your communication partners (family / friends you may bring to your appointments) to tailor a rehabilitation program to specifically meet your listening and communication goals. This may include communication repair strategies, strategies to support you in groups or noisy environments, telephone training and the use of assistive listening devices. The important thing to remember is that you are ensured expertise, care, and ongoing support at All Ears & Speech.
Choosing the right device for your needs
For some clients several implantable technology solutions may be suitable, particularly for those with single sided deafness. We believe our pre-operative program ensures all hearing options are explored thoroughly and that you receive optimal pre- and post-operative care. Written information will be provided throughout the program.
When a cochlear implant is recommended, pre-operative assessment includes consultation with our clinical psychologist. This is to ensure your expectations are realistic and that you have supports in place following surgery for the rehabilitation program required. Our cochlear implant recipients have found this most beneficial.
Lifelong Hearing & Support
At All Ears & Speech we are committed to lifelong hearing and support. Your hearing needs and goals may change across your lifespan, and we are here for you every step of the way. This includes:
Need additional help in challenging listening situations?
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For those listening situations where even the most advanced hearing technology does not meet all your listening goals, assistive listening devices can provide the added boost needed over distance or in loud background noise.