What is a cochlear implant?

“A cochlear implant is a small, complex electronic device that can help to provide a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing.” That’s according to the the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

“The implant consists of an external portion that sits behind the ear and a second portion that is surgically placed under the skin.”

Who is a candidate?

Both children and adults can get cochlear implants. Children as young as 12 months can be fitted for the device.

In fact, children may benefit from the device more in the long run. We don’t mean to discount the enormous impact a cochlear implant can have with an adult patient (the benefits are enormous), but according to, “All children, especially those implanted at a young age, demonstrated improvement in sound detection and in their auditory perceptions kills following implantation.” The child will learn and develop with the cochlear device.

The University of Maryland Medical center provides a good rundown of who can benefit and who can qualify. “The ideal candidates for cochlear implantation are adults or children with recent hearing loss and young children whose hearing loss is identified very early.” A decision is ultimately decided by a team of specialists working with the patient.

How does the technology work?

According to, “A cochlear implant is an electronic medical device that does the work of damaged parts of the inner ear…to provide sound signals to the brain.”


WebMD has an in depth breakdown: “First a surgeon places a receiver under your skin behind your ear, through a small cut. The receiver is connected to electrodes, which are surgically inserted into the cochlea.” A while after the surgery, the patient is fitted with three external pieces: “a speech processor, a battery pack, and a transmitter. You wear the microphone, which looks like a hearing aid, behind your ear.”

Once everything is ready to go, the microphone will pick up any external sound and “change them into electoral impulses,” which are sent to the receiver, which are sent to the electrodes, which stimulate the auditory nerve. Once the auditory nerve is stimulated, the signals (sounds) are sent to the brain.

You can find out even more information at the ASHA website:

1. Cochlear Implant Quick Facts

2. Cochlear Implant FAQ