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Cochlear implants

Cochlear implants

What is a cochlear implant?

Cochlear implants are suitable for adults and children who do not benefit from conventional hearing aids, for example if their hearing loss is too severe. They are provided by specialist multi-disciplinary teams and involve a comprehensive assessment before the decision to implant can be made. Mills & McKinney practice can advise if you are likely to benefit from an implant and refer you for assessment if necessary.
 

What is a cochlear implant?

A cochlear implant is a surgically placed device that helps a person with severe hearing loss to hear sound. Cochlear implants bypass damaged parts of the inner ear to stimulate the auditory nerve directly. They may help when a hearing aid can’t.   

How do cochlear implants work?

How do cochlear implants work?

A microphone and speech processor that is worn on the head and ear.

A microphone and speech processor that is worn on the head and ear.

A receiver/stimulator that is placed under the skin behind the ear.

Once it receives information from the processor it sends electrical impulses by a thin wire to electrodes placed in the cochlea. The electrodes stimulate the auditory nerve, which sends messages to the brain. The brain uses this information to recognise sounds and understand speech.

Who would benefit from a cochlear implant?

What do cochlear implants sound like?

Sound quality from a cochlear implant is different to that from normal hearing, or from hearing aids. It won’t sound “natural”. However cochlear implants let someone detect sound that they couldn’t otherwise, and new pathways to make sense of these sounds rapidly form, especially in children. With therapy and practice you learn how to interpret these sounds to understand speech better.

 

Who would benefit from a cochlear implant?

Cochlear implants are considered for adults and children who have a severe to profound hearing loss and who do not benefit from conventional hearing aids. Children as young as 9 months of age are considered.

 

You or your child will be assessed by a specialist multi-disciplinary team. The team will carry out a number of investigations including:

  • Hearing tests

  • Speech and language evaluation

  • Hearing aid trial (if appropriate)

  • Scans of the head and ears

  • General health assessment

 

Most importantly, they will carefully discuss the procedure and the likely benefits with you so that you can make a fully informed decision.

 

Cochlear implants may not be suitable if:
  • Hearing is “too good” with hearing aids

  • You or your child have been profoundly deaf for some time without using hearing aids

  • Hearing loss is not due to a problem with the cochlea

  • The auditory nerve is damaged or absent

Who provides
Can you use a cochlear implant and a hearing aid?

Can you use a cochlear implant and a hearing aid?

Yes you can. Some people have a cochlear implant in one ear, and a hearing aid in the other. It takes a bit of time to get used to this, but many people find it a very effective solution. It is also possible to use a cochlear implant and a hearing aid in the same ear in very specific circumstances, for example where a cochlear implant is used to provide high-frequency information, and a hearing lower frequency information.

 

Who provides cochlear implants?

Most cochlear implants are provided on the NHS. There are also a few private cochlear implant clinics, and some clinics that allow a blend of NHS and private funding. If you have an implant from an NHS centre, it is possible to get ongoing support (for example an upgrade to your speech processor) from a private clinic.

Can you use a cochlear implant and a hearing aid?
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