What Are Cochlear Implants?

Teenage boy wearing a cochlear implant and looking at a tablet with a small dog

If you are severely hard of hearing or deaf, you may be a candidate for a cochlear implant. Unlike hearing aids, cochlear implants do not make sounds louder. They do, however, allow people to experience the sensation of sound by directly stimulating the auditory nerve.

What Are Cochlear Implants, and How Do They Work?

Cochlear implants can be an option for those with inner ear damage and those who are suffering from severe hearing loss. Hearing aids amplify sound, but for those with serious hearing loss, that may not allow them to hear. Alternatively, cochlear implants bypass the damaged portion of the ear and deliver sound signals straight to the auditory nerve. When your brain receives those sound signals, it recognizes and interprets them as sound.

During surgery, a doctor implants a sound processor that fits behind the ear. This processor catches sound signals and then sends them to a receiver behind the skin of the ear. The receiver then sends these signals to electrodes implanted in the cochlea (the snail-shaped inner ear). The auditory nerve is stimulated by these signals, which then directs the signals to the brain, where it interprets the signals.

The sensation of hearing people experience with a cochlear implant is much different from traditional hearing. Those without hearing impairments can pick up a much wider range of frequencies than those with cochlear implants, so it takes lots of time, training, and therapy to learn how to interpret the signals received.

What Are the Benefits of Cochlear Implants?

Even though the sensation of hearing is different with a cochlear implant, there are still plenty of benefits, including the following:

  • You can understand speech without lipreading: getting a cochlear implant helps patients understand speech better to the point where they typically don’t need to read lips.
  • You can enjoy your favorite music again: while they may not sound the same, cochlear implants can help many people experience music and their favorite sounds again.
  • Most adults benefit immediately: after surgery, the cochlear implant can immediately improve the sensation of hearing in most adults, and it usually continues to improve for about three months after the initial tuning sessions.
  • You can watch TV and talk on the phone easier: many people are able to watch television more easily because they can understand the dialogue. Talking and making telephone calls becomes easier, as well.

Amdahl Hearing is the perfect place to go for custom hearing protection, hearing tests, and plenty more. If you would like more information about cochlear implants, or if you want to learn more about our services, don’t be afraid to reach out to us with any questions or concerns.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.