Before making the final decision to undergo cochlear implantation, it is vital for individuals or parents of a child with hearing loss to have a sincere appreciation for the commitment required and the factors that can impact success before and after surgery.
Setting expectations is an important part of the cochlear implant journey.
While they facilitate sound, cochlear implants do not provide the same type of sensation as “normal” hearing. Cochlear implant users typically continue to experience improved results over time with continued use of the implant. Hearing function a year after the initial activation is usually much better than the hearing function initially.
Patients who learned to speak and understand language prior to losing their hearing typically have better results than those who lost their hearing prior to language acquisition during childhood. In general, better performance is expected if the implantation is performed soon after the hearing loss occurs.
Many things determine the success of implantation, such as:
- The health and structure of the patient’s cochlea
- How long the patient has been deaf / hearing impaired. As a group, patients who have been deaf for a short time do better than those who have been deaf a long time
- How old they were when they became deaf–whether they were deaf before they could speak
- How old they were when they got the cochlear implant
- How long they have used the implant
- How quickly they learn
- The patient’s dedication to post-surgery rehabilitation
- The quality of the support structures / services
Reasonable expectations after implantation include:
- Improved detection of environmental sounds and speech
- Use of spoken language as the primary mode of communication
- Improved language skills and speech clarity
- Improved reading skills
- Potential for mainstream education
- Improved emotional health