If you or a loved one is struggling to hear every day, even with powerful hearing aids, Cochlear Implants may be a solution. Cochlear implants work differently than hearing aids. Hearing aids make sounds louder and rely on the healthy sensory cells in the inner ear to transmit sounds to the hearing nerve. As hearing loss progresses, there may not be enough healthy sensory cells left in the inner ear to transmit sounds. So even if hearing aids are loud enough, some sounds are distorted and unclear. It’s almost like turning up a badly tuned radio. Cochlear implants bypass the damaged cells in the inner ear and transmit sounds directly to the hearing nerve using electrical impulses. Stimulating the hearing nerve directly gives a clearer, more precise signal, but not necessarily louder. Having a cochlear implant is more like improving the signal of a badly tuned radio instead of turning it up. Sound heard with the implant is different than acoustical sound, however, and my take some time at first to adjust. Cochlear implants are approved for adults with moderate to profound sensorineural hearing loss in both ears who understand less than 40% of what they hear with their current hearing aids. In order to qualify for cochlear implants, a cochlear implant evaluation must be performed. This is often conducted by a team of specially trained health professionals. A medical workup is necessary to ensure there are no medical contraindications to surgery. An audiological evaluation is required to ensure the candidate meets the FDA candidacy criteria. Candidates must have realistic expectations, a strong support system and be motivated to learn to hear with the new device. Children as young as 12 months may qualify for cochlear implants if they have profound sensorineural hearing loss in both ears and receive limited benefit from hearing aids. Children age 2-17 years are approved for cochlear implants if they have severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss in both ears and receive limited benefit from hearing aids. In any case, a trial with hearing aids is always a necessary step in the cochlear implant candidacy process.
If you have questions about the cochlear implant candidacy process or think you may qualify for cochlear implants, please contact Hearing Plus, LLC.
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Patricia Larson Shields, AuD FAAA MA CCC-SP/L is a doctor of audiology with her degree from The School of Audiology of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in February, 2003. She has been in business in Mitchell, SD since September, 1991.