Cochlear implants are being used by more people with severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss who no longer benefit from hearing aids.
For most people with mild to moderate hearing loss, hearing aids are of benefit, but they do not help everyone. That’s because hearing aids simply amplify sound and the amplified sound can become distorted.
A cochlear implant consists of an internal and an external component. The internal component is surgically inserted under the skin behind the ear, and a narrow wire is threaded into the inner ear. The external component, which looks something like a behind-the-ear hearing aid, is connected to the internal one through the skin via an external magnetic disk. Unlike hearing aids, cochlear implants convert sound waves to electrical impulses and transmit them to the inner ear, providing people with the ability to hear sounds.
A few quick facts on cochlear implants:
Cochlear implants can create a range of sound, but do not replace normal hearing
Cochlear implants are not indicated for all deaf or hard of hearing people. They are not recommended in people who function well with hearing aids
Cochlear implants can be in one ear or both (binaural)
Adjustments (called mapping) are an integral and essential part of cochlear implant rehabilitation. Ideal candidates are those who are motivated to work hard at their rehabilitation after surgery
Cochlear implant performance varies. People hear better over time with practice. It takes approximately one to two years to get used to hearing sounds in a new way.