Cochlear implants are FDA-approved, surgically implanted devices that provide access to speech stimuli and environmental sounds for individuals with severe hearing loss. Cochlear implants electrically stimulate the auditory nerve in order to successfully communicate with others, and are typically used when hearing loss is so severe that conventional hearing aids will not allow an individual to access sounds or do not provide sufficient clarity for speech sounds.
Cochlear implants change acoustic sounds to electrical impulses that are delivered to the auditory nerve via an implanted electrode array in the cochlea (organ of hearing). After receiving the impulse:
- An external device, known as the sound processor, sits on or near the ear and collects sound. The information travels through a coil that transmits the sound to an internal device. The coil is typically held in place on the head with a magnet.
- The internal receiver converts the signal received from the external speech processor to electrical impulses and stimulates the auditory nerve to send information to the brain.
To be considered for a cochlear implant, you will need:
- Pre-candidacy hearing evaluation and speech recognition testing with and without hearing aids.
- Otologic examination from an otolaryngologist.
- Computerized Tomography (CT) scans and/or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
Other evaluations may be recommended by your Weill Cornell Medicine cochlear implant team.