|Cochlear Implant Questions - What Are Cochlear Implants|
Q: Who is a candidate to receive a cochlear implant?
A: A determination of candidacy is made by an audiologist and ear-nose-throat (ENT) surgeon with special training in cochlear implants. As of 2012, an adult with moderate to profound hearing loss may have up to 50% sentence discrimination (i.e. words in sentences) in the ear to be implanted -- wearing hearing aids -- and be an appropriate candidate. In general, if someone wearing appropriately fit hearing aids cannot understand speech without seeing the speaker’s face, they should be evaluated for a cochlear implant. For children, an assessment of any child with a severe to profound hearing loss should be made as early as possible as outcomes with a cochlear implant are significantly better in children who receive an implant at the earliest possible age. Cochlear implant candidacy guidelines have changed to include children and adults with more residual hearing as well as other anatomic, health, and learning issues that would have been considered “absolute” or “relative” contraindications in the past. Utilization of other technologies, in combination with the cochlear implant device, have provided further expansions in outcomes bringing recipients closer to “normal” hearing. With all of these changes have come a new recognition of the quality of life changes and cost utility made possible when the right device is matched to appropriate patients.
Q. Are cochlear implants appropriate for older adults?A: Older adults benefit greatly from cochlear implants. However, widespread misunderstanding exists regarding when older adults should be referred for a cochlear implant and there is a tendency by our healthcare system to overlook hearing as a major health concern. Studies have shown that there is no significant difference in outcomes for older adults. Medicare covers cochlear implantation for appropriate candidates. The following free online course LINK provides guidance as to when to refer older adults for a cochlear implant evaluation and the documented benefits and safety of hearing restoration via cochlear implants for those over age 65.
Q: What is involved in the process of cochlear implantation?
Q: What are the barriers to cochlear implantation?
A: Barriers to cochlear implantation can be traced to low awareness among both the general public and the medical community. Further, there are no universally sanctioned medical/clinical guidelines for best practices in cochlear implantation and audiology after care—the data-based, best practices which lead to consistent clinical outcomes. Low reimbursement through public and private payers along with recent reductions in Medicaid payment has only increased the financial burden.
Q: Can cochlear implants provide recipients with an appreciation for music?
A: For many, music is a universal language that unites people when words cannot. But for those who use cochlear implants – technology that allows deaf and hard of hearing people to comprehend speech – hearing music remains extremely challenging. To read more, see the following articles: