Cochlear Implants are similar to traditional hearing aids but go a step further because it converts sounds into signals that are sent directly to the brain. Frankie Sims, a speech-language pathologist at Texas Tech Medical Center, says Cochlear Implants are changing the way educators and health professionals think about children with hearing impairment.
"So as opposed to a hearing aid that takes sound and simply amplifies whatever you hear and sends it through bones in the middle ear and is transformed into sound at the cochlea, it directly stimulates the cochlea and the impulses are sent directly to the brain," explains Dr. Sims.
Children and adults can see positive results from Cochlear Implants.
"Children who are not receiving, or adults, who are not receiving benefit from a traditional hearing aids, are ones who are candidates for a Cochlear Implant. These are children for whom hearing aids have not been effective so it will be severe to profound losses but also need to be at least 12 months of age for the implant surgery to be performed," said Dr. Sims.
Currently, in the United States, about 13,000 adults and 10,000 children have Cochlear Implants.
Children who receive Cochlear Implants are severely or profoundly hearing impaired. But as a result, they are able to listen to oral speech and for the first time grasp meaning through listening. The implant costs about $40,000. That includes the surgery, some rehab and the mapping services, which is how the processor is set.
But the good news is that today, most insurance companies, and even Medicaid, in most cases, will cover the cost of the implant.