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Frequently Asked Questions About Cochlear Implants For Children

A cochlear implant system enables children with significant hearing loss to connect to the world around them through sounds, speech, and music. 

Hearing aids basically make sounds louder, but for children with more hearing loss, this may not be enough to make sounds clearer or easier to understand. Cochlear implants send sound signals directly to the hearing nerve, where it’s sent on to the brain.

If your child failed a newborn hearing screening test or still struggles to hear with hearing aids, they may be a candidate for cochlear implants. Talk with your child’s doctors to decide if CIs may be right for your child.

Don’t be afraid and don’t be ashamed.



"As a mother who has been through such an experience with her child, I really advise all other parents to get the cochlear implant if it is recommended by their doctors. Don’t be afraid and don’t be ashamed. It will take time to overcome hearing loss, but this tough period will eventually become a memory. Your child will overcome obstacles, and will grow up in front of you with their achievements and successes. They will do it, and you will be proud."

-- Nirmeen Mohammad Al Natour, mother of Kareem, who hears with two AB CIs

Very young children can get a CI depending on their health, the cause of their hearing loss, and other factors such as the hospital. Having a CI as early as possible can help your child hear voices and speech, so they can learn language and speech. 

 

Talk with your child’s doctors to decide if CIs may be right for your child. 

Unlike hearing aids, cochlear implants are often covered by MediCare and many insurance companies.* Contact your insurance company or AB’s Insurance Reimbursement Services Team at 877.779.0229 or insurance@advancedbionics.com to find out about your specific coverage. The cost of a cochlear implant will be different based on your personal health plan.

* Cochlear implants are covered for Medicare beneficiaries who meet the CMS criteria for coverage and coverage for adult Medicaid recipients varies according to state specific guidelines.

We hear best with two ears. Hearing with both ears helps us to know where sounds are coming from, and understand speech better in noisy places. So, if your child has hearing loss in both ears, you should get help for both ears.

 

Depending on the doctor’s advice and healthcare coverage, children sometimes get both ears implanted at the same time. Others get one implant first before getting another one later.

Yes! Hearing well in both ears helps us understand speech better in noisy places, and know where sounds are coming from. So depending on your child's hearing loss and situation, your doctor may suggest a cochlear implant on one ear and a hearing aid on the other. This solution is known as bimodal hearing. AB offers bimodal solutions designed to maximize the benefit of hearing with both ears compared to any other solution on the market.

Your child’s doctors will be able tell you if your child will benefit from cochlear implants. We also encourage you to speak with other adults whose children have cochlear implants to learn about their family’s experiences.

Many features in AB’s cochlear implant systems are designed to optimize the enjoyment of music. Many people have been able to enjoy music again with their AB CIs, or for the first time.


Watch the Carey-Wilkinson family’s story, and learn about their special connection through music—made possible by their child’s AB cochlear implants.

Compared to many other surgeries, cochlear implant surgery is minimally invasive. The surgery itself usually takes two to four hours. Because it’s done with general anesthesia, your child will also spend additional time in the preparation and recovery areas.

The entire process is about one and a half hours to two hours.



"This is a surgery that's performed under general anesthesia, so you're asleep. The entire process is about one and a half hours to two hours depending on the anesthesia time. And what happens when you're asleep is we shave a little bit of hair around the ear. We make an incision, that's sort of S-shaped behind the ear. And then we get to this bone that you can feel behind your ear, which is called the mastoid. We go through the mastoid bone and we find a nerve called the facial nerve. It's an extremely important nerve because it controls movement to your face. We put a monitor on the nerve to keep it safe. We go in front of the nerve to find the middle ear and then the inner ear, which is known as the cochlea. We make about a one millimeter opening into the cochlea. And then we thread very gently this electrode into the cochlea so that it can rest inside the inner ear. We then put the device under the skin, close the skin up and wake you up from anesthesia."

-- Charles Limb, MD, ENT surgeon

Depending on your child and your doctor, your child may go home the same day or spend the night in the hospital. And they’ll likely be feeling like themselves again within a few days after implantation. About two to four weeks after the surgery, depending on how your child heals, their CI will be turned on, or activated at the audiologist’s office. That’s when your child will start to hear through their new cochlear implant. 

Yes, air travel is safe for people with cochlear implants. Metal detectors and security scanners should not damage the implant or sound processor. But, when your child goes through security metal detectors, the cochlear implant may activate the alarm. That's why it’s helpful for you to carry your child’s “Patient Emergency Identification Card” with you at all times.

Yes! AB’s HiRes Ultra 3D Cochlear Implant is safe for up to 3.0 Tesla MRI scans without any preparation, surgery, or head bandaging. Simply take off your child’s headpiece and sound processor before the MRI, and put it back on afterwards.

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