A Cochlear patient and his wife smile together after a successful implantation

If your hearing loss is significant enough, hearing aids may no longer be a viable solution. For those who are no longer receiving adequate benefit from hearing aids, one option to consider may be a cochlear implant.


What Is a Cochlear Implant?

A cochlear implant is different from a hearing aid. A hearing aid processes and amplifies sound so that it can be picked up by the hair cells in your cochlea (inner ear). These cells create impulses for the auditory nerves to send to the brain, which interprets the impulses. The more damaged your hair cells, the more processing and amplification is required to successfully hear with a hearing aid.

A cochlear implant, on the other hand, is made up of several components that work together to completely bypass the hair cells (both intact and damaged) to directly stimulate the auditory nerve. Specifically, an external processor picks up sound and creates digital information, which is transmitted to an internal receiver. This receiver sends information to an array of electrodes in the inner ear that stimulates the auditory nerve through electrical impulses. The impulses continue on to the brain to be interpreted.

A Cochlear patient shows off his new implant

Who Can Get a Cochlear Implant?

Cochlear implants are for those who are no longer receiving benefit from hearing aids. Adults and children can safely and successfully benefit from cochlear implants, but there a few things to keep in mind:

  • Cochlear implants don’t restore hearing to normal.
  • The input your brain receives will be different than normal hearing, so you will have to relearn how to hear with this new type of input.
  • This learning process requires patience. It will take time, but you will have a team of professionals, including your audiologist and ear, nose, and throat doctor, working with you to ensure you are as successful as possible.
  • You will need to be motivated. The process of learning to hear through a cochlear implant takes time and your success depends on your efforts. The more you practice, the faster you will adapt to hearing in the environments that are important to you.


What Are the Different Kinds of External Processors?

The basics are the same for all cochlear implants, an external processor captures sound and sends this information digitally to the internal unit. The internal unit then transmits electrical impulses along the auditory nerve.

However, there are different types of external processors. Traditionally, the microphone and speech processor look like a behind-the-ear hearing aid. They are connected by a wire to the transmitter, which sits against your scalp and stays in place by way of a magnet.

A second type of external processor has the microphone, processor, and transmitter all in one unit that sits on the scalp, secured by a magnet, so there’s no behind-the-ear unit or wires.

Both types of external units are offered in disposable and rechargeable batteries allowing you to choose the option that is best for you.


What Brands of Cochlear Implant Do We Offer?


Cochlear is the pioneer of the first commercially available cochlear implant. Their innovative technology includes such products as the Nucleus®7(including the Cochlear™ Hybrid™, Nucleus® Kanso 2®, Baha 5®, Baha®SoundArc® and Osia 2®. Cochlear is also known for having the first ‘Made for iPhone’ cochlear and bone conduction implant sound processors on the market. This technology allows you to stream phone calls, music, and videos from your compatible Apple devices straight to your sound processor.

For more information on these products please visit the link below or call our office to speak to one of our Doctors of Audiology.

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Advanced Bionics

Advanced Bionics offers a variety of implant options such as the Naída® CI, the Sky® CI, and the Neptune®. The Naida® was developed with adult users in mind while the Sky® CI is tailored specifically for children, keeping in mind their special needs for speech and language development and growing social skills. The Neptune is the first swimmable sound processor that features a freestyle™ design so you can have the flexibility of wearing the external unit in multiple locations without compromising performance.

For more information on these products please visit the link below or call our office to speak to one of our Doctors of Audiology.

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Med El

Med El has several product families including Sonnet2®, Rondo3®, Bonebridge®, and Adhear®. The Bonebridge family is a surgical bone conduction implant while the Adhear is a non-surgical bone conduction hearing system.

The Sonnet2® and Rondo3® are compatible with the Synchrony2 internal unit which has been approved for MRIs up to a 3.0 Tesla without having to remove the internal magnet.

For more information on these products please visit the link below or call our office to speak to one of our Doctors of Audiology.

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How Do I Know if I’m a Good Candidate for Cochlear Implants?

Our Doctor’s of Audiology can perform an extensive auditory evaluation to determine whether you’re a good candidate. If so, they’ll work in conjunction with an otologist from either Johns Hopkins Hospital or J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital to determine if you meet certain physical, medical, and balance requirements.


Your Audiologist

Once implanted, your audiologist will work with you to activate your external processor, educate you on use and care of your equipment, and guide and assist you with all the follow-ups and future adjustments. A cochlear implant isn’t just a procedure, it’s a relationship between you and your audiologist. They’ll be on the journey with you, testing and adjusting your technology and encouraging you as you gain new successes in your hearing.

You can learn more about the entire process, from initial evaluation through post-implant follow-up and adjustment, on our Cochlear Implant Process page.

If you feel you might be a good candidate for a cochlear implant, click below to schedule an evaluation at either our LaVale or Oakland office!

Ready to Start Your Journey to Better Hearing?

Contact our hearing professionals today to begin.

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