Are Cochlear Implants Right for Your Child?

Hearing Loss in Children

When a child's hearing is impaired, his or her ability to learn, use, and understand language is disrupted. Some parents find out their child has hearing loss right away, while others notice signs later in childhood. The most important thing to do is get the right treatment as early as possible. 
 
Dr. Phillip Chaffin, pediatric ENT from Mountain Point Medical Center, explains more about hearing loss in children. 
 
 
Symptoms of hearing loss in infants:
  • No reaction to loud noises
  • No reaction to your voice
  • Has stopped babbling or babbling has not progressed into speech
 
Symptoms of hearing loss in children:
  • Cannot follow or understand simple directions
  • Easily frustrated
  • Falling behind in communication skills
 
What is a cochlear implant?
A cochlear implant is an electronic device that can help provide a sense of sound by replacing the function of damaged cilia. Unlike hearing aids that amplify sound, cochlear implants directly stimulate the auditory nerve, providing a useful representation of sound and speech. A cochlear implant consists of the following:
 
  • Microphone: picks up sound from the environment
  • Speech processor: arranges sounds picked up by microphone
  • Transmitter and stimulator: receives signals from speech processor and converts them into electric impulses 
  • Electrode array: collects the impulses from the stimulator and sends them to the auditory nerve
 
The cochlear implant procedure is an outpatient surgery that typically takes three hours or less. Three to four weeks after surgery, the cochlear implant will be activated and the sound processor will be adjusted based on your child's reaction to sounds. This is the beginning step for your child and the rest of your family.
 
What are the potential benefits of a cochlear implant?
  • Improved ability to learn and understand speech and sound
  • Focus in noisier environments 
  • Improved perception of a variety of sounds

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