Cochlear implants are very successful for some people, but not everyone is a candidate to receive one. Ideally, children 12 months of age or older with profound hearing loss in both ears are excellent candidates, but not every child is eligible.
Some common reasons that a child may not be eligible for a cochlear implant:
- the child's hearing is "too good" (meaning the child can hear some sound and speech with hearing aids)
- the reason for hearing loss isn't a problem with the cochlea
- the child has experienced profound deafness for a long period of time
- the hearing nerve itself is damaged or absent
Each potential candidate must be evaluated by a cochlear implant team to determine whether a cochlear implant is the best option.
For those who do receive a cochlear implant, benefits can vary. The length of rehabilitation varies from person to person, and many factors (such as the condition of the hearing nerve or the presence of scar tissue in the cochlea) can hinder the success of the implant.
Expectations should be realistic, and the doctor or surgeon will help you understand the level of success the implant can reasonably achieve for your child.
Reviewed by: Robert C. O'Reilly, MD
Date reviewed: September 2008