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What are the Pros and Cons of Cochlear Implants

a woman holding her hand to her ear

Cochlear implants are electronic hearing devices help to restore some levels of hearing to those who are deaf. As is the case with any medical procedure, there are pros and cons to using them. Read on to learn more. 

What is a cochlear implant? 

A cochlear implant is a small electronic device that can help to improve moderate-to-severe hearing loss. Used to help hearing loss in both adults and children, the aid works by electrically stimulating the cochlear nerve. In order to work, it has external and inner components. 

The external component is placed behind the ear. It consists of a small microphone, designed to receive sound waves. From there, a speech processor analyzes the sounds picked up by the microphone, turning them into digital signals. These digital signals are then sent to a transmitter, which forwards them to the person wearing the implant. The transmitter and receiver are held together by a tiny magnet. 

The internal component of a cochlear implant is implanted beneath the skin, right behind the ear. When the receiver gets the digital signals from the small microphone, it turns them into electrical impulses that are sent to electrodes in the cochlea. This action stimulates the cochlear nerve, forwarding the impulses to the brain and creating a sense of hearing.

Though the brain will notice the sounds that are being made, they don’t sound the same as normal hearing. If someone wants to learn how to properly interpret these sounds, speech therapy and rehabilitation are necessary. 

​Pros 

When it comes to cochlear implants, there are lots of incredible pros that should be considered. Those include:

  • Hearing improvement: Cochlear implants are a great way to improve hearing and speech perception for you or your child, as they work together with lip-reading and sign language to enhance speech perception and communication. It can allow you to hear different sounds including background noise, voices on the phone and the sound of the TV. 
  • Future learning and career opportunities: If your children use cochlear implants, it gives them the opportunity they may need to understand their classes better. With better hearing, it can open them up to learning without any assisted aids or further help. As a result, as they age it will open doors to new career opportunities.  
  • Speech Development: Cochlear implants can help improve the clarity of your speech, aiding any future development when it comes to both listening and language skills.  
  • Safety: Using a cochlear implant can also give you the ability to hear any potential dangers or alerts. From sirens to warning sounds, it can help keep you safe.

Cons 

With every pros and cons list, it’s important to consider the cons too. When it comes to cochlear implants, those include: 

  • Cochlear implants cannot fully restore hearing: Although cochlear implants can improve your ability to receive and process audio, they will not fully restore your hearing. Most people report some level of improvement, but there are no guarantees.
  • Outcomes and hearing levels differ for everyone: The benefit of a cochlear implant is not immediate, and everyone will experience varied performance.
  • Surgery:  As with any surgical procedure that you have to undergo, there are also risks and limitations associated with cochlear implant surgery. 
  • Taking part in activities: Although those with cochlear implants can participate in all common activities, it is recommended you take precautions to protect the device from damage when wearing a helmet or swimming. In some cases, you can remove it. 
  • Cost: There are many insurance companies that will cover the cost of a cochlear implant, however, if you do not have insurance, it may be cost-prohibitive. 
  • Maintenance: Cochlear implants also require a lot of ongoing support and maintenance. This includes changing the battery, wiring fixes or recalibrating the device. Guides and advice are available on how to do all of the above. 
  • Background noise: Those using cochlear implants may still need support when it comes to hearing background noise, especially in environments that are considered to be loud.

For those living with severe hearing loss, the benefits of cochlear implants far outweigh the downsides mentioned above. The possibility of improving communication and further enjoying the outside world certainly outweighs the risk of having a surgical procedure for most people. With implants allowing people to hear sounds they have never heard before, the changes it can make to someone’s life are often huge. 

If you would like to learn more about the pros and cons of cochlear implants, you can call Kampsen Hearing at 813-876-8374.