What are cochlear implants?

Cochlear implants are U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved, surgically-implanted medical devices that treat hearing loss. Cochlear implants replace the function of a damaged inner ear (cochlea) and are designed to mimic natural hearing.

Who do cochlear implants help?

Cochlear implants have been FDA-approved for more than 30 years. For adults of all ages, cochlear implants are a hearing loss solution for those with moderate to profound sensorineural hearing loss, also known as nerve hearing loss, receiving limited benefit from hearing aids. Cochlear implants have become the established treatment for children as young as 12 months with severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss.

Why are cochlear implants significant?

The impact of hearing loss is substantial around the world and in the United States. Hearing loss affects 360 million people worldwide. Cochlear implants are the only proven medical treatment option for those with severe to profound hearing loss.

How can cochlear implants help?

From those in the first years of their lives all the way to those in the last years of their lives, cochlear implants have improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the world.  Providing a child access to sound when a hearing loss is first detected is very important. Cochlear implants are designed to help a child develop speech, and research shows those implanted early in life have speech performance scores closest to scores of normal hearing children. While many early intervention factors contribute to a child succeeding with a cochlear implant, research and over two decades of experiences demonstrate cochlear implants provide improved speech and language development, quality of life and educational outcomes for children with hearing loss. Nearly one in three people over the age of 65 have hearing loss, impacting communication and contributing to social isolation, anxiety, depression and cognitive decline. In adults, typically within a short amount of time after implantation, better speech understanding is achieved. Studies show adults with cochlear implants understand sentences on average almost seven times better than they could with hearing aids.

How do cochlear implants work?

There are two main components to a cochlear implant system, the implant and the sound processor.

The internal implant which is the surgically implanted device that contains the processing chip, a removable magnet and the electrode array (1).

The external sound processor which contains the processing unit, microphones, battery module and a coil. The external component can either be worn off the ear (2) or behind the ear (3).