Our pediatric otolaryngologists work together with specialists in audiology and speech pathology to provide personalized, comprehensive care for children with complex hearing needs. We work closely with you and your child throughout the entire cochlear implantation process, including pre- and post-implantation and rehabilitation.
What is a Cochlear Implant?
Although many types of hearing loss can be treated with proper management of ear infections, other types are not easily treated with medicine, surgery or traditional hearing aids. Children who are born deaf or have hearing loss that gets worse over time, resulting in deafness, may be candidates for cochlear implants.
A cochlear implant is an electronic, surgically implanted device that replaces the tasks of the inner ear. It has two parts: an internally implanted device and externally worn processor. The device is usually implanted in both ears for children. It can provide children who have severe hearing loss an improved awareness of sounds in the environment and speech recognition ability.
After the device is activated, we work closely with you and your child to ensure that the cochlear implant is functioning properly and at the optimum level. Our speech-language pathologists will also help your child with speech, vocabulary and language activities to improve communication using the cochlear implant.
The Cochlear Implant Process
In order for a child to be considered for implantation, and in compliance with federal and state recommendations, a child must have:
- All necessary hearing testing
- A speech/communication skills assessment
- An appropriate trial with hearing aids
- A record of up-to-date vaccinations, including complete pneumococcal vaccination in accordance with CDC guidelines. Additionally, we recommend Hib and meningococcal vaccination.
- An EKG and a urinalysis
- CT imaging and/or MRI
- Additional evaluations as needed in ophthalmology, developmental pediatrics, genetics, cardiology, social services and/or other specialties
Our Pediatric Cochlear Implant Team
Our experienced cochlear implant surgeons are extensively trained in the medical and surgical treatment of acute and chronic disorders of the ear, including pediatric cochlear implantation. They work together with a team of audiologists and speech-language pathologists at Brenner Children's to evaluate each child for assistive devices, from hearing aids to cochlear implants to Baha®. They also treat other related disorders and make appropriate referrals.
Our pediatric implant audiologists are specially trained in implant technology and pediatric audiology. They have access to a variety of hearing tests, including tympanometry, otoacoustic emissions, auditory brainstem response testing and multiple formats for behavioral audiometry. Working in pairs, they test children to determine precise hearing thresholds. They are also highly experienced in hearing aid management and talk with families about the expectations and limitations of each device.
Following implantation, a patient sees an implant audiologist frequently for programming of the device. A special bond develops between the family of an implanted child and the audiology team members. Our team members take pride in having flexible schedules with the ability to find last-minute appointments, when possible.