A cochlear implant is a prosthetic device that may enable a severely hard of hearing or profoundly deaf individual to experience useful hearing. The technology for this prosthetic device involves a surgical procedure that implants electrode(s) into the inner ear.
How does it work?
After the surgical procedure is completed, there are up to 22 electrodes (the number of electrodes depends on the device chosen) in the inner ear and a "pedestal" attached to the head. The "pedestal" is the contact point for the electrodes. A processor, worn outside the body, is programmed to accept sound through a microphone and create electrical signals that are transmitted through the "pedestal" to the electrodes. The activated electrodes send signals to the auditory nerve which are translated by the brain.
What does it cost?
The total cost of the cochlear implant which includes equipment, surgery, and limited rehabilitation is between $20,000 and $40,000. Health insurance companies may pay for part or all of the cost depending on the plan. Many health insurance companies do not reimburse for cochlear implants at all.
What are the potential benefits?
The benefit varies from person to person, and may include, for example:
- increased sound awareness
- easier speech reading
- possibilities for some use of phone
- improved speech management
- increased sense of independence
What are the potential risks?
- general medical risks from surgery involving general anesthesia
- loss of residual hearing in implanted ear
- no guarantee of noticeable hearing improvement
For more information about cochlear implants, please contact the following:
Advanced Bionics Corporation (Clarion)
12740 San Fernando Road
Sylmar, CA 91342-1342
Children's Hospital Department of Otolaryngology & Communication Disorders
300 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
Clarke School for the Deaf
47 Round Hill Road
Northampton, MA 01060
Cochlear Corporation (Nucleus 22)
61 Inverness Drive East
Englewood, CO 80112
Cochlear Implant Association, Inc.
The Minuteman Implant Club
30 North Street, #2
Ware, MA 01082-1061
House Ear Institute
2100 W. Third Street, 5th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90057
41 Mall Road
Burlington, MA 01805
Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary (MEEI)
243 Charles Street
Boston, MA 02114
New England Medical Center, Speech, Language Pathology and Audiology
Department, P.O. Box 823,
750 Washington St.
Boston, MA 02111
This information is provided by the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.