Hesperian Health Guides
Who can be helped by a cochlear implant?
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The cochlear implant is only given to children who are completely
deaf or have very little hearing even with a hearing aid. In some
countries, babies as young as 6 months can get cochlear implants. In
other places they must be 1 to 2 years old. Cochlear implants do not
help people who already have some hearing.
Cochlear implants do not restore hearing. People who receive cochlear implants will still be deaf. The implant's outside microphone and processor send signals to the implant which passes them to the brain. The outside parts are tuned over a period of time to meet each child's needs.
Your child must use the cochlear implant correctly to be able to hear sounds. Even when cochlear implants work well, hearing through an implant sounds different from normal hearing. Some people say that sounds seem flat or 'tinny' — they compare it to listening to a radio station that does not come in clearly. It takes some time and practice for children with cochlear implants to learn to understand the sounds they hear. Children must go to classes to be trained in how to 'hear' with the cochlear implant.
The results of the operation, equipment, and training classes are very different for each child. Most children who have a cochlear implant and use it correctly, and who have very good training, will hear and understand sounds. Some children who get cochlear implants will also learn to speak. Other children who have good training and use the cochlear implant correctly may still have difficulty hearing and learning to talk.