What Can I Expect from a Cochlear Implant?

The experts at Iowa Ear Center are able to help guide you through the entire cochlear implant process. The first step is to schedule an initial consultation where you will have a hearing test, and an audiologist will make recommendations appropriate to your level of hearing loss. Then you can discuss any potential surgical options with our surgeon Dr. Matthew Carfrae, one of less than 300 board certified neurotologists in the United States. The next step is to schedule a formal cochlear implant evaluation, which is a two hour test with an audiologist followed by a review with medical staff to determine candidacy. Many patients will also need imaging if appropriate imaging has not been recently obtained.

Once candidacy has been determined, surgery will be scheduled as well as several programming appointments. After the patient has healed from surgery, the first programming appointment will be initial stimulation of the device when the external processor is attached and turned on for the first time. This is followed by several appointments where the programming of the processor is fine tuned for each patient’s needs.

Patients who receive a cochlear implant will never have “normal” hearing. This is because the cochlear implant bypasses the structures of the ear and stimulates the cochlear nerve. Outcomes may vary, which is why the follow-up programming sessions are so important. Some patients think it sounds “like a robot” at first. Pediatric patients will need time and speech therapy to help the speech-processing center of the brain adapt to new auditory input. Adult patients who have been deaf all their life will be able to detect sounds, but may not be able to understand speech if the speech-processing center of the brain was never stimulated in early childhood.

It takes time for the brain to adapt to a new method of processing sound, and it is essential to work closely with an audiologist who can advise patients and adjust programming as needed. For many patients, cochlear implants may be their only option to restore their hearing. Success can depend on commitment to following up with appropriate programming appointments, wearing the external processor all waking hours, and for some patients may involve some speech therapy.

Our cochlear implant program and services are available through:

Iowa Ear Center
12499 University Avenue, Suite 200
Clive, IA  50325-8281
Phone: 515-418-9960
Toll free: 888-316-2127
Fax: 515-418-9107

Please contact us today if you would like to schedule an initial consultation.