What is a Cochlear Implant?
A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted device that bypasses damaged hair cells in the ear and provides electrical stimulation directly to the auditory nerve, giving patients who are severely hearing impaired or profoundly deaf the ability to hear. It is most beneficial for those who cannot be helped with a traditional hearing aid.
How a Cochlear Implant Works
A cochlear implant works differently than a hearing aid. Hearing aids amplify sounds so that a person with hearing loss can hear more clearly. Cochlear implants generate an electrical signal that the brain interprets as sound.
The implant has an external portion that sits behind the ear, consisting of a microphone, a speech processor and a transmitter. These work in tandem with the internal components, a receiver and array of electrodes, which have been implanted in the ear.
The microphone picks up sound and sends it to the speech processor, which converts these signals to digital impulses and sends them to the transmitter.
The transmitter, in turn, sends the processed audio signals to the receiver. From there, they are transmitted directly to the brain through the auditory nerve. While a cochlear implant does not cure deafness or restore hearing loss, it does allow a patient to perceive sound, and can help him or her to converse again.
Who are Cochlear Implants For?
Those experiencing severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss (the result of nerve damage to the inner ear) who can’t benefit from conventional hearing aids are prime candidates for cochlear implants. These implants are most helpful in patients with solid language and communication skills and a hearing loss that occurred later in life. Younger children (typically between the ages of two and six) also benefit, since a cochlear implant exposes them to sounds during their formative learning years, while they are developing speech and language skills. Post-implantation therapy is a crucial component in the success of cochlear implants; learning to use them correctly takes time and effort.
Pediatric Cochlear Implant Habilitation
Our speech-language pathologist and certified Auditory Verbal Therapist will work closely with all members of your child’s team to optimize speech, language, listening and academic progress across all settings. Collaboration and outreach are essential to your child’s ongoing success.
We offer complete diagnostic assessments and therapy services that focus on improving auditory skills and speech/language development. We aim to maximize your child’s language outcomes following their natural patterns of development in language, audition and communication. Our goal is to guide parents to integrate listening and spoken language into all aspects of your child’s life through daily routines, imaginative play, music, singing, literacy and more.
Adult Cochlear Implant Rehabilitation
Our adult recipients will receive auditory rehabilitation therapy post activation to promote optimal success with communication skills throughout the implant process. Our speech-language pathologists will work closely with your audiologist to provide critical individualized programming information.
This rehabilitation will include auditory therapy designed to increase your rate of progress moving through the stages of auditory skill development. In addition, it will also include instruction in repairing communication breakdowns and increasing overall conversational confidence.
Call UCHealth Hearing & Balance at (720) 848-2800 for more information or to schedule an appointment.