What is a Cochlear Implant?

A cochlear implant is a medical device that is designed to help those with significant hearing loss regain access to some hearing again.  The cochlear implant does not provide "normal" hearing; however, it does provide enough information to allow many patients to understand speech in ideal listening situations.                

There are many factors that can affect how you will hear with a cochlear implant.  Some of the factors include:  

  • how long you have had a hearing loss
  • how long you have worn/not worn hearing aids
  • the age when you lost your hearing (before or after learning to speak)
  • what your main mode of communication is (Sign Language, Oral)
  • the cause of your hearing loss
  • the presence of cognitive or mental health issues (dementia, depression). 

Given the number of potential factors affecting outcomes, we are unable to guarantee how well someone will hear with a cochlear implant.  However, if you are recommended to get one, the expectation is you should hear better than you would with hearing aids.  

There are two parts to the cochlear implant:      

  1. The external component (sound processor), consists of a coil, cable, processor and a power source (disposable or rechargeable batteries).  The sound processor is worn on the ear much like hearing aid.


2.  The internal component (implant), consists of a receiver, stimluator and an electrode array.  The electrode array, which houses a number of electrodes, is surgically implanted into the cochlea (Inner Ear).  The electrodes bypass the damaged sensory hair cells by directly stimulating the hearing nerve.  The hearing nerve sends the information to the brain where it is interpreted as sound.