Hesperian Health Guides

Is a cochlear implant a good choice for your family?

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HealthWiki > Helping Children Who Are Deaf > Appendix B: Cochlear implants and hearing > Is a cochlear implant a good choice for your family?

If you are trying to decide whether a cochlear implant is a reasonable choice for your child, here are some things to consider.

Are cochlear implants and professional support available in your area?

Many communities do not have doctors or professionals who are trained to work with children who have cochlear implants. Most countries have some doctors who can perform the operation, but they are usually in big city hospitals where there may also be a cochlear implant center.

Having a cochlear implant center near you is important. You and your child will visit the center many times for several years after your child is implanted. Your Ministry of Health or a school for the deaf might be able to tell you if there is a cochlear implant center close to you.

Cost of the operation and cochlear implant

The operation, equipment, and years of training with professionals are very expensive. In India, cochlear implants can cost about $10,000. (Hearing aids cost about $75.) As with hearing aids, children can lose or break parts that are worn outside the head. These parts can be very expensive to replace.

In China, the operation, equipment, and training equals 20 years of an average worker's salary. In Mexico, the cost of a cochlear implant equals 4 years of a medical doctor's salary.
A pile of money between a worker and a doctor.

Older and cheaper cochlear implants do not work as well as the newer, more expensive equipment. In a few countries, programs offer the cochlear implant for free or at low cost.

Care and support after the operation

A woman and her son speaking.
Say 'apple'.

Young children with a cochlear implant need extra care and help from their families and professionals. After children heal from the operation, they must spend years training with professionals to learn to hear and to understand the sounds they hear. The family will also need training in how to communicate with the child.

Cochlear implants and sign language

Children with cochlear implants may benefit from learning to sign. There is no reason why children with cochlear implants cannot use sign language while they are learning to listen and speak.