Cochlear Implants FAQs

Read frequently asked questions on cochlear implantation below.

In the past, a cochlear implant was placed in only one ear. Implanting in both ears is now more common. Benefits of bilateral implantation may include improved hearing in background noise and the ability to localize sound. We take great care in determining whether two implants or the use of an implant combined with a hearing aid would be best for each child. The recommendation to implant the second ear depends on multiple factors. Each child's case is considered individually.
This hospital's cochlear implant center has the capability to implant and program all commercially available devices. We work with all major cochlear implant manufacturers to provide families with the latest technology. Information about the different cochlear implant systems will be provided to you.
Having a cochlear implant has been found to increase the risk of bacterial meningitis, a very serious infection. The risk is very small and can be reduced by making sure that your child receives vaccinations that help prevent the types of bacterial meningitis that have occurred in implanted children. We ask you to bring your child's vaccination records to your first consultation. After we review these records, we will let you know if and when any additional vaccinations will be necessary. Our cochlear implant team nurse will give you more information about vaccinations. We follow the latest recommendations provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Most children return home on the same day as surgery. Children may return to school the following week.
After two to four weeks, your child will return for programming of the device. The number of visits required will depend of the age of your child and their ability to cooperate. Several times each year, your child will be scheduled to return for hearing evaluations and programming rechecks.
Weekly individual therapy that focuses on development of listening skills is of great importance. For preschool age children, a parent-centered approach that enables carryover into the home environment is extremely beneficial. Once your child has acquired the ability to hear and comprehend complex sounds that are essential to understanding spoken language, the focus of therapy often changes to articulation and further development of receptive and expressive language. The quality of the services your child receives in their school program is important. Children with cochlear implants experience success in a variety of educational settings with differing educational philosophies. Some children use oral communication, while others use total communication (spoken language and sign language) and/or augmentative communication devices. The most important factor is that your child's teachers have expertise in incorporating tasks to develop listening and spoken language skills throughout the day, as well as a general working knowledge of the cochlear implant. It is also beneficial for your child's school to have a positive attitude towards working with children who have received implants, as well as a willingness to communicate with our program and your child's private therapist(s).