Cochlear Implant Program (Pediatric)

The University of Michigan Cochlear Implant program at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is one of the largest, most experienced cochlear implant programs in the nation. Our multidisciplinary team specializes in working with children with hearing loss and their families. We are committed to supporting your family throughout the process of considering cochlear implants, surgery and long-term follow-up care.

What is a cochlear implant?

A cochlear implant is an electronic device that stimulates residual nerve fibers in the inner ear. These electrical pulses are sent to the brain and interpreted as sound. An implant system consists of an external speech processor, located entirely behind the ear, and an internal, surgically implanted electrode array. We provide several types of cochlear implants, depending on a patient’s need. All of the devices we use are FDA-approved, multi-channel cochlear implant systems, and provide multiple speech perception strategies and other features.

Who is a candidate for a cochlear implant?

Candidates for cochlear implants should have:

  • Moderate to profound sensorineural hearing loss in both ears.
  • Little to no benefit from hearing aids, following an adequate period of training and experience with their use.
  • Evidence of a functioning auditory nerve.
  • The ability to provide a conditioned response to auditory or vibrotactile (detection of sound through touch) stimuli.
  • Family stability and support.
  • Motivation and willingness to learn to use the implant.
  • An educational/rehabilitation program that emphasizes auditory skill development.
  • No other medical issues that would prevent surgery.

Cochlear Implant Evaluation Process

Your child will be evaluated and cared for by a multidisciplinary team who specializes in hearing loss and rehabilitation. Each team consists of a Pediatric Neurotologist (a surgeon with specialty training in disorders of the ear) a pediatric audiologist and a certified auditory-verbal speech-language pathologist.

Testing for candidacy includes a standard hearing test, specialized speech recognition tests, and imaging of the inner ear for structural evaluation.

We will work with you to understand the long-term follow-up care that is required, provide guidance on the available implant systems, and discuss the outcomes we expect your child will receive from a cochlear implant. Our goal is to support you through every step of this process.

What does a cochlear implant surgery consist of?

Surgery for a cochlear implant is almost always done on an outpatient basis, with only a small incision hidden behind the ear. Extensive shaving of the hair is not required. A 4- to 6-week period is required to allow adequate healing of the incision site, and then the internal device can be linked with the external processor and turned on. During the activation, the device is adjusted and tuned by an audiologist using a computer. The patient then returns one week later for further programming to monitor any changes in hearing. Monthly visits to the implant center for programming may be necessary until hearing stabilizes. Patients typically return for fine tuning of the device about 6 times during the first year and annually thereafter.

Why choose the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital Cochlear Implant Program?

In choosing a cochlear implant program for your child, it’s crucial to consider the annual surgical volume of the program, especially if there is an inner ear abnormality. The University of Michigan Cochlear Implant Program was established in 1984 and is one the oldest programs in the country. We have restored hearing to more than 2,800 children and adults.

Our program is committed to advancing the field of hearing loss management. We participate in clinical trials to evaluate new devices, and our program is part of the federally funded Childhood Development after Cochlear Implant study, aimed at defining variables that contribute to successful performance with a cochlear implant.

Take the Next Step:

Schedule an appointment by calling us at 734-998-8119 or you can email us at OTO-HRC-Scheduling@med.umich.edu