Cochlear Implant

Cochlear Implants

Blond girl with cochlear implant facing away from the camera

Cochlear implants are electronic hearing devices. These devices pick up and process sound for a person who has severe-to-profound hearing loss. Cochlear implants have two main parts—an external component and an internal component. The external piece is larger and typically sits above and behind the ear by a magnet. The internal component is “implanted” under the skin by a surgeon. An individual usually receives one cochlear implant, on either the left or the right side. After a person heals from surgery, the cochlear implant must be “started up.” Mapping is the term for adjusting the device so that a person hears sounds, including speech. Learning to recognize, understand, and attach meaning to these sounds is a process. Therefore, an audiologist changes the mapping over time as the person responds to and learns sounds. The individual can work with a speech-language pathologist on different skills, including identifying sounds, producing speech, and regulating the loudness of one’s voice. As well, an individual with a cochlear implant might use lipreading or sign language to help him/her communicate. For more information, visit ASHA.