What You Need to Know About Cochlear Implants: Part 2

In my last post, we reviewed what a cochlear implant is and how it works. Now, I wanted to take some time to give you the most recent candidacy requirements and other key information regarding the device.

Candidacy

The candidacy for receiving a cochlear implant has progressed since the first FDA approval for adults in 1985. At that time, candidacy was very stringent, accepting to only those with a bilateral profound sensor neural hearing loss with virtually no speech recognition. Since that time, criteria has become more flexible and there are variations based on cochlear implant manufacturer and insurance coverage.

According to Boys Town National Research Hospital, the basic criteria for adults include:

  • Bilateral severe to profound sensor neural hearing loss
  • Limited benefit with appropriately fit hearing aids
  • Realistic expectations
  • Medically cleared to undergo surgery; no physical limitations for the placement of the implant
  • Commitment to attend follow-up appointments
  • Support system in place

Criteria for children are slightly different, adding the following to the adult list:

  • Must be at least 12 months of age to undergo surgery
  • For children under 18 months of age, a bilateral profound sensor neural hearing loss is required
  • Children over 18 months, a bilateral severe to profound sensor neural hearing loss is required
  • Little to no progress with auditory development

Follow-up appointments play an extremely important role in success for cochlear implant users. Just like hearing aids, the goal of cochlear implants is to try and achieve maximum comfort and access to the hearing world. This requires adjustments to the device as the cochlear implant user encounters new and different listening environments.

Aural rehabilitation is also a key component. An individual needs to be retrained on how to hear again in this new, unique way. Most cochlear implant manufacturers have developed their own rehabilitation tools that can be very resourceful for new cochlear implant users. Some of these tools may assist with topics as broad as overall auditory comprehension or listening performance in background noise or specifically listening while using the telephone or listening to music.

Even though our clinic does not actively participate in cochlear implantation, we have multiple resources at our clinic that can provide a potential candidate with the appropriate resources. If you would like further information on cochlear implants or hearing loss, feel free to contact our clinic or check out the information on Advanced Bionics, Cochlear Americas and Med El websites.

By Dr. Kendra Neugebauer

Audiologist at Avera Sacred Heart Hospital

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