Cochlear Implant Program (Pediatric)

Cochlear implants are surgically placed devices with externally worn components designed to provide hearing to those who are profoundly deaf and aid them in communicating with others. Children of any age who have profound hearing loss in both ears, and who do not receive enough benefit from hearing aids to understand and develop speech may be good cochlear implant candidates.

The Cochlear Implant program at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is part of 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, and 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 and headset (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 multi-channel cochlear implant systems, and all provide multiple speech perception strategies and other features.

Who is a candidate for a cochlear implant?

Candidates for cochlear implants should have:

  • Severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss in both ears
  • Little or 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 (detect 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 by hearing specialists from our pediatric otolaryngology (ENT) and otology, pediatric audiology and speech-language pathology teams to determine whether a cochlear implant is an option for your child. 

Testing for candidacy includes a standard hearing test, and a speech recognition test administered while wearing appropriate hearing aids, to determine percentage of words recognized in sentences. Imaging of the inner ear is also generally ordered.

We will work with you to understand the long-term follow-up care that is required, provide guidance on the various available implant systems, what to expect from the process of receiving a cochlear implant.  Our goal is to support you every step of the way through the decision-making process.

What does 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 four to six week period is required to allow adequate healing of the incision site, and then the implant can be hooked up to the processor and turned on. During the activation, the device is adjusted and tuned 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.

We also offer revision implant surgery for patients who have had cochlear implant surgery at another hospital that has failed.

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

In choosing a cochlear implant program, the annual surgical volume is key, especially if there is an abnormality with the inner ear. The University of Michigan Cochlear Implant Program was established in 1984, and is one of the oldest programs in the country.  We have restored hearing to more than 2,000 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 (CDACI) study, aimed at defining variables that contribute to successful performance with a cochlear implant.

Schedule an appointment online or by calling us at 734-998-8119.