What is a cochlear implant?
A cochlear implant is a small electronic device that can help "make" sound if you have severe or total hearing loss. The implant does the job of the damaged or absent nerve cells that in a normal ear make it possible to hear. Cochlear implants can be programmed according to your specific needs and degree of hearing loss.
Who can benefit from a cochlear implant?
Cochlear implants may help people with severe or total hearing loss in both ears who do not get any benefit from hearing aids. Cochlear implants have been shown to improve a person's ability to understand speech and speak clearly. Unlike hearing aids, cochlear implants do not make sounds louder but improve how well you hear sound.
How does a cochlear implant work?
A cochlear implant consists of a:
The microphone picks up sound and sends it to the speech processor, which changes the sound to information the cochlear implant can understand. The implant then tells the nerves in the ear to send a message to the brain. The message is understood as sound.
How do I best benefit from a cochlear implant?
Speech therapy will help you make the most of your cochlear implant. Training in listening, language, and speech-reading skills (paying attention to people's gestures, facial expressions, posture, and tone of voice) also help you.
Do cochlear implants have any complications?
Cochlear implants have a low rate of complications, which may include:
In July 2002, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a public health notification on a possible link between cochlear implants and bacterial meningitis. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has looked into this and found:
The CDC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have recommended the following to decrease the risk of bacterial meningitis in people with a cochlear implant:
It is possible that a cochlear implant can be affected by a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. This could cause the implant to stop working. Make sure you tell your doctor you have a cochlear implant before having an MRI.
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