Who can benefit from a cochlear implant?
A cochlear implant is recommended for adults and children suffering from sensorineural single-sided or bilateral hearing loss who are unable to communicate effectively with a hearing aid.
If you suffer from cochlear or sensorineural perceptive hearing loss, the sensory cells of the inner ear (hair cells) are either insufficient in number or too damaged to provide proper hearing. A cochlear implant system bypasses these issues in the cochlea and helps to improve your hearing and quality of life.
Suitable for children and adults
For children, especially for prelingual deaf children, early cochlear implantation at around 12–18 months is recommended, as hearing plays a large role in developing language. Early implantation also gives children the best chance of attending school and following the general education system.
For adults, there is no upper age limit for cochlear implantation, although a preliminary psychocognitive evaluation is essential for the elderly. For these candidates, the main benefit of cochlear implantation that it helps maintain autonomy and social interaction.
Single-sided or bilateral
Cochlear implantation can be used whether you suffer hearing loss in one ear (single-sided) or in both ears (bilateral). In bilateral cases, having implants in both ears improves the ability to locate sound, aids speech understanding in noisy environments and enables stereo perception of sound. Although the two implants can be placed in one operation, the majority of bilateral implantations take place over two sessions. Often the second implantation takes place months, or even years, after the first. Patients with one implant could be candidates for bilateral implantation, pending an evaluation from the implantation centre.*
Not a solution for everyone
In certain cases, the implantation centre may decide that cochlear implantation is inappropriate. In addition to the medical indications of cochlear implantation, the following may rule out this solution:
• if conventional hearing aids are considered sufficient for speech understanding
• if the auditory nerve is too damaged or non-existent, or if the cochlea is ossified or is not the main cause of hearing loss, other solutions may be suggested, such as a brainstem implant
• if your health does not allow you to undergo surgery
• if your motivation or your family’s support are considered inadequate.
*Please note that bilateral implantation is not reimbursed in all countries. Please contact a cochlear implantation centre in your country for more details.
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