A cochlear implant is a small, sophisticated electronic device which can provide hearing to a person with a hearing loss that is too severe to be helped by hearing aids. It does this by providing direct electrical stimulus to the user’s organ of hearing instead of sound amplification that hearing aids provide. A cochlear implant is a lifelong solution to hearing difficulties.
There are two components to a cochlear implant:
1) The first is the implant itself which is implanted into the user via a routine, outpatient procedure performed by a certified Ear Nose Throat surgeon (ENT). After the subject has healed from this procedure (usually two weeks later)
2) The speech processor is then provided to him/her. The speech processor is worn on the ear of the user like a hearing aid but functions completely differently. It is responsible to capture sounds, process them, and then send this information to the implant so that it can the implant can provide auditory information via direct electrical stimulation.
When should you consider a cochlear implant?
A cochlear implant is suited to people of all ages. They are very good solutions for people with hearing losses who do not benefit from hearing aids. If you are considering a cochlear implant for yourself or a loved one, please contact us so we can discuss the suitability of the device.
What are the benefits?
There are some very significant benefits for implantees.
Children and adults who are deaf or severely hard-of-hearing can be fitted for cochlear implants. For young children as young as 12 months old and who are deaf or severely hard-of-hearing, they are better able to hear, comprehend sound and music, and speak when using a cochlear implant. Studies have shown that exposing children to sounds during this optimal period to develop speech and language skills, they are able to develop language skills at a rate comparable to children with normal hearing, and many succeed in mainstream classrooms.
Adults who have lost all or most of their hearing later in life due to health or environmental reasons, can also benefit from cochlear implants. They learn to associate the signals from the implant with sounds they remember, including speech, without requiring any visual cues such as those provided by lipreading or sign language.
What to expect as part of the procedure?
The candidate should be accessed by an ENT surgeon who is trained and certified in the cochlear implant procedure. Audiologists will also participate in the assessment to conduct a series of hearing tests and hearing aid trials.
If you are a Singaporean citizen, you are eligible for a reasonable subsidy to cover the costs of the device and the procedure. Feel free to contact us and we can refer you to an implant centre who can provide the necessary means testing.
Procedure and “Switch-On”
Once a procedure date is scheduled and completed, the implantee will rest and recover for 2 weeks before the “switch-on” procedure. During the “switch-on”, the speech processor will be calibrated by a trained audiologist and worn by the user for the first time. At this point, the user will be able to hear using the cochlear implant.
Being supported by a good habilitation therapist will be fundamental to having a child-user hear better using his/her cochlear implant. Habilitation will be very critical in helping a implant-user child to hear and listening using auditory and verbal cues, just like children with normal hearing.
Schedule a free consultation with our implant professionals to find out more.