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Cochlear Implants

When Hearing Aids Are Not Enough…

“I can hear, but I can’t understand!” This is a common challenge for individuals with hearing loss. Hearing impacts so many aspects of a person’s overall health that it is really important to treat a hearing loss, especially as the hearing loss progresses. While hearing aids have long been the gold standard treatment for hearing loss and help so many patients improve their overall quality of life, sometimes a patient’s hearing loss progresses to the point that hearing aids are no longer enough. In these cases, a cochlear implant may be the solution.

cochlear implant

FAQs About Cochlear Implants

What is a Cochlear Implant?

Cochlear implants are a proven medical treatment option for individuals with significant hearing loss and are the most appropriate option to treat severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss. They are not new, they have been FDA-approved for nearly 40 years.

Learn more about the latest Nucleus® 8 Sound Processor here.

How is a Cochlear Implant Different From a Hearing Aid?

Why do some people struggle with hearing aids? Hearing aids rely on the ear structures to receive amplified sounds and send that information to the brain. Cochlear implants treat hearing loss not by sending amplified sound into the ear canal, but rather by replacing the function of damaged sensory cells in the inner ear and stimulating the hearing nerve directly.

infographic of an ear implant

A cochlear implant has two parts, a processor and an implant. There are two style options for the processor which can be worn behind the ear, or off the ear. The processor has microphones that pick up the sound and send it to an implant that is surgically placed under the scalp and connects to a series of electrodes that the surgeon places in the inner ear. The electrodes receive sound information and stimulate the hearing nerve. The surgery has very minimal risk, is done as an outpatient procedure, and takes about one hour.

How Well Can I Expect to Hear with a Cochlear Implant?

Our audiologists can talk with you more about outcomes that are typically seen with cochlear implant users. While every person is different, and there are several factors that can contribute to success with a cochlear implant, a large majority of patients notice significant improvements in their ability to hear and understand speech with a cochlear implant over traditional hearing aids. Many research studies have shown that cochlear implants improve not only hearing but overall quality of life.

How Much Does it Cost?

Unlike hearing aids, cochlear implants are covered by Medicare and most private insurance plans. This coverage includes both the devices and surgery. You can expect to pay some fees for professional time and services related to the candidacy evaluation, cochlear implant activation, and programming appointments.

How Do I Know if a Cochlear Implant is Right for Me?

Your first step in determining if a cochlear implant is right for you is to schedule an appointment for a cochlear implant candidacy evaluation. During this evaluation, the audiologist will measure your hearing thresholds, and determine appropriate amplification options. If the results suggest an implant may be an appropriate solution there is more in-depth testing completed to measure the benefit obtained from appropriately fit hearing aids. Your ability to understand speech while wearing hearing aids will be measured. The audiologist will review all of the results and make a recommendation. If a cochlear implant is recommended, you will be referred to a surgeon. The surgeon will examine you and determine if you appear to be a good candidate for surgery. Our audiologists are partnered with highly skilled surgeons at Denver Ear Associates and the Rocky Mountain Cochlear Implant Center who have many years of experience performing implant surgeries on thousands of patients. If the surgeon feels you are a good candidate for surgery, staff from the surgeon’s office will work with you to determine insurance coverage for the surgery and the device, and schedule your surgery!

What Happens After Surgery?

Approximately two weeks after surgery you will be scheduled for a cochlear implant activation appointment at The Hearing Place. Your audiologist will turn your implant on for the first time! You will learn how to use your cochlear implant and begin hearing in a whole new way. You will meet with your audiologist several times during the first year following your surgery to adjust your cochlear implant. After the first year, patients usually come in once a year for an annual checkup for routine maintenance and progress monitoring.

Am I Too Old?

At The Hearing Place, we like to remind patients that you are never too old to hear! You are also never too old to receive a cochlear implant. The average age to receive a cochlear implant is 65, though audiologists on our team have worked with cochlear implant patients who are well into their 90s. Our oldest cochlear implant user is currently 99.

Still Have Questions?

Give us a call at (970) 716-6262 to speak with one of our audiologists today.

Dr. Brittany Mathisen
Ashley Stumpf
woman smiling

Dr. Brittany Mathisen

Dr. Ashley Stumpf

Dr. Tina Stoody