Cochlear Implants

You may want to learn more about cochlear implants if:

  • Your child is at least 12 months old (current FDA guidelines permit implanting children 12 months of age); you can begin learning about it at 6 months.
  • Optimal hearing aids, in good working order, have been used 10+ hours per day for 6+ months with no noticeable benefit.

A cochlear implant is an electronic device designed to improve sound detection and speech understanding. Part of it is surgically implanted behind the ear and into the cochlea. Externally, the person wears a transmitter, a microphone, and a signal processor, which are typically “hooked up” 4-6 weeks after surgery.

Although it is still not possible to predict how well an individual child will do with a cochlear implant, the earlier a child receives a cochlear implant, the greater the likelihood he or she will obtain optimal benefit in achieving good speech and hearing results. Intensive auditory training and speech therapy are required for a child to make optimal use of a cochlear implant.

Cochlear implant surgery takes approximately three hours, typically requiring no more than an overnight stay. It is covered by Medicare, Minnesota Medical Assistance, and most insurance companies.

For more information about cochlear implants, visit Hands & Voices (with additional links) and the Cochlear Implant Frequently Asked Questions at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

The Minnesota Department of Administration’s STAR (System of Technology to Achieve Results) Program helps Minnesotans, including those who are deaf or hard of hearing, gain access to and acquire the assistive technology they need to live, learn, work, and play.

Hands & Voices provides a comprehensive resource regarding technology. The Hands & Voices Communications Consideration A-Z™ includes information, issues, questions for parents to ask, and additional resources. Some examples include information about hearing aids, amplification, and cochlear implants.

Another resource at Hands & Voices is a series of articles exploring various technology opportunities, perspectives, and insights.

Additional Assistive Technology Resources can be found at the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

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    Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) refers to the practice of screening every newborn for hearing loss prior to hospital discharge. Infants not passing the screening receive diagnostic evaluation before three months of age and, when necessary, are enrolled in early intervention programs by six months of age. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) laws or voluntary compliance programs that screen hearing.

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