Who Is a Candidate for a Cochlear Implant?
People who are usually candidates for cochlear implants can generally hear when someone is talking, but they cannot understand what the person is saying, even when they are wearing hearing aids that are working well. Children and adults who have significant hearing loss and do not find hearing aids helpful may be candidates for cochlear implants. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a “hybrid” cochlear implant device. This device is for people whose hearing loss is not as bad as usually required to be considered a candidate for a cochlear implant, but still have difficulty hearing people when wearing their hearing aids.
What Should I Do if I Think I am a Candidate for a Cochlear Implant?
If you think you might be a candidate for a cochlear implant, the first step is to schedule an appointment with one of our Otologists. An Otologist is an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) physician who specializes in conditions that affect the ear. The Otologist will examine you and then send you to an Audiologist for a regular hearing test. If the hearing test reveals a severe enough hearing loss and difficulty understanding speech, the Audiologist and Otologist will recommend more testing to determine if you are a candidate for a cochlear implant. During this test (which is done on a different day), you will complete a few tests of speech understanding in one of our sound proof test booths. You will be wearing your hearing aids (or hearing aids provided by the clinic) for this task. You and the Audiologist will then talk about the best options for you and for your hearing needs. You will review these results with the Otologist at another appointment. If you are a candidate for cochlear implant, the Otologist may refer you for more medical tests to determine if you are healthy enough to have surgery.
We encourage you to bring a parent, spouse, or loved one with you to your visits so that he or she can better understand this process as well!
Remember: If you are a candidate for a cochlear implant, the final decision to get an implant is your decision to make. We are here to help you with that decision in any way that we can!