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Cochlear Implants: Patient Expectations

 In Cochlear Implant, Cochlear Implant Candidacy, Cochlear Implant Surgery

This blog is a follow-up to our previous discussion of, Am I a Candidate for the Cochlear Implant Surgery? If you have not read this post yet, we suggest you start there before reading the following.

Arizona Hearing Center is committed to educating patients and their loved ones on the hearing loss and/or ear disease that is affecting their life.  We also believe it is extremely valuable for our patients to have realistic expectations about what cochlear implants (CI’s) can and cannot do.  The education process occurs from the first consultation, continues through a cochlear implant seminar, and is expanded upon at every single follow-up appointment.  A properly educated patient will not only be fully aware of what to expect on their rehabilitation journey, but they will also be empowered to achieve the best outcome possible. So what are patient expectations?  Keep reading to find out.

The most important factor in determining outcomes of cochlear implantation is the patient them self.  Other important factors that weigh heavily on CI outcomes include: how much hearing loss the patient has, the duration of hearing loss, duration of hearing aid use, language ability, willingness to learn, and more.

Patients and their loved ones need to become well educated about how implants work and what they can and cannot do for you.  The primary purpose of cochlear implants is to help patients better understand speech.  CI’s do not give a person normal speech  understanding ability, however, they have the capability to greatly improve a patient’s communication status.  This means that when speaking to a CI recipient, it is still necessary to maintain an appropriate distance, make sure that the patient can see your face, and try to reduce background noise if possible.

After a patient has been identified as a CI candidate, information from the CI manufacturers (there are three; Advanced Bionics, Cochlear Americas, and MED-EL) will be sent to the patient’s home.  The patient will ultimately select which of the three manufacturers they will use.  There is no scientific data showing that patients have greater outcomes with one manufacturer as opposed to another.  It is important to know that the patient is entering into a long term relationship with the company.  Patient research is critical.  Other than the marketing material sent to the patient, there are several CI community groups as well as manufacturer meetings throughout the valley.  Information on how to attend these educational meetings and how to get networked into the CI community will be provided in the patient packet given at the CI seminar at the Office of Dr. Mark J. Syms.  It is imperative to know cochlear implantation better before deciding to make a lifelong commitment.

The patient will have to learn how to use the implant and this will take time and effort.  They will also need to maintain and care for the cochlear implant.  It is important to understand that the patient will not begin comprehending speech at the time of the initial activation post-surgery, however, they will begin to hear sound from the implant as soon as it is turned on by the audiologist.  The road to rehabilitating hearing loss with a CI takes several months if not a year or two.  In order for the patient to achieve maximum hearing/understanding potential, it is crucial that they attend follow-up appointments as indicated.  However, our team of hearing experts are with you every step of the way on your journey to ensure you have the knowledge, tools, and resources needed to ensure success.

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