The cochlear implant is an electronic device that enables children with severe hearing loss and deafness to gain access to the world of sound. A microscopic electrode array is surgically introduced into the inner ear. Sounds are captured by an externally worn device, much like a hearing aid. After activation of the device, sound is transformed into electrical signals that then directly stimulate the auditory nerve. In this way, cochlear implants bypass the parts of the inner ear that are not functioning in the child with hearing loss. With this technology, children may be able to learn speech and interact using verbal communication.
The candidacy evaluation must be thorough. The process of learning to understand and interpret the sounds generated by a cochlear implant may take years. Our multidisciplinary team works together to ensure that the child is an appropriate candidate, with good long-term follow up and a suitable educational environment. After a child has received an implant, we work to ensure that a child’s hearing is optimized, that communication goals are being met, and that parents are prepared to advocate for a well designed educational environment.
The Eastside Pediatric Communications Clinic at Bellevue Ear Nose and Throat offers customized care to children with sensorineural hearing loss who are being evaluated for cochlear implantation, and children who already use cochlear implants.