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Cochlear Implant - Is it the right fit for your child?

Updated: May 27

We understand that each individual with hearing loss can have different treatment options available. Therefore, it is extremely crucial to acquire knowledge about different hearing solutions and their candidacy criteria.


Cochlear Implant

“We turned a child who couldn’t hear into a typical 2-year-old who doesn’t listen.”

:Mount Sinai Hospital post performing cochlear implantation


 

Once you've acknowledged that your kid has hearing loss, the next question on your mind is which treatment choice is ideal for your child's hearing loss, taking into account its severity, if you should utilise hearing aids or cochlear implants, and so on. Additionally, there are a plethora of other questions about surgery, appearance, financial load, social status, personal and situational factors, all of which contribute to the complexity. Because the signs and symptoms of hearing loss range from one child to the next, it’s vital to plan ahead for personalized care. “Is a cochlear implant right for your loved ones?” is the most pressing question.


Cochlear Implant: Panacea for hearing loss

Cochlear implants are different from hearing aids. A cochlear implant is an implanted device that provides access to sound to those who have severe or profound hearing loss by electrically stimulating nerves in the inner ear. It works for both children and adults. People with hearing loss can benefit from cochlear implants and is consists of two major parts. An exterior sound processor rests close to the ear and a second portion is surgically implanted beneath the skin.


In severe or profound hearing loss there is damage in cochlea and the cochlear implant bypasses the damaged cochlea and stimulates the auditory nerve. Cochlear implant has tiny electrodes which are inserted inside the cochlea by performing surgery and they convert sound wave into electrical signals stimulating the auditory nerve.

Candidacy for cochlear implant:

The criteria for assessing eligibility for cochlear implants have evolved considerably since the devices were first introduced. A complete developmental, speech, and language examination is required before therapy can be provided to a kid. Hearing aids can help adults with mild to moderate hearing loss since they can make sounds louder, however, if your child’s condition is more serious and he or she has severe or profound hearing loss, cochlear implants are the only option.

Cochlear implants are suitable for people with

  • Severe to profound hearing loss

Acceptability of Cochlear implant

According to a data published by US Food and Drug Administration, around 736,900 registered cochlear devices had been implanted worldwide as of December 2019. The potential for significant improvement in life of deaf/profound hearing loss patients, combined with low complication rates, easy and quick surgeries have suggested that with better research and investigation cochlear implant devices are performing better as a result of which awareness for cochlear implant is on the rise. Parents have more preference for cochlear implant for their kids at young age as 9 -12 months, because of awareness that is on rise. Parents are now acquainted with the fact that an early treatment/intervention of hearing loss, is better for the language and speech development in their ward(1). Technical advancement of cochlear implant with patient specific fitting has multiplied their acceptability for congenital/Agre related/ Noise related profound hearing loss.

Who can get a cochlear implant and its need determination?

According to NIDCD (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders), discussions with medical professionals, particularly an experienced cochlear-implant surgeon, should precede the decision to obtain an implant. The procedure might be costly. Surgical implantations are nearly always safe; however problems do exist, just as they do with any other type of surgery. Learning to comprehend the sounds produced by an implant is another factor to consider. This procedure needs patience and practice. This learning process usually involves speech-language pathologists and audiologists. All of these concerns must be evaluated prior to implantation.

Cochlear Implant: Fits better when choices are made right

As it is clear that cochlear implants are suitable for people with permanent /sever to profound hearing loss or who are deaf (Age/Noise related). In the case of children there are various factors that need to be considered prior to go for cochlear implant. Each child’s hearing loss indications and symptoms are distinct. If you suspect your kid has a hearing problem, schedule a hearing test as soon as possible with your child’s doctor.

1. Before cochlear implants the first stop is hearing aid Trial

Patients should be fitted and extensively tested for hearing aids and followed for 3-6 months for any changes in their hearing loss status before obtaining a cochlear implant, according to physicians and audiologists. This trial is of short duration for children suffering with meningitis and even experiment is sometimes skipped because bone development in the cochlea after meningitis might make implantation difficult.


1.1 Indian Government Norms: Child should have used suitable hearing aid for at least 3 months with no significant improvement in speech and language development (1)

2. Type and degree of hearing loss:

The Cochlear implant works best if it is implanted at an early age. From the USA to India, whether it is the FDA or the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) under the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, the right age for Cochlear implantation is the earlier the better.

2.1 Indian Government Norms: Severe to Profound sensorineural hearing loss in both ears (1)


3. Age factor: Earlier the Better


3.1 Age criteria in Developed Country: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend cochlear implant devices for babies as young as nine months old. It has been observed that children who are young respond better to cochlear implants. For children who have profound or permanent hearing loss, they can undergo cochlear implantation as early as 9-18 months (90 dB or greater).

3.2 Age criteria in Developing Country like India: (a) Child with congenital deafness (since birth) up to 5 years. (b) Upto 12 years for child with post lingual deafness i.e. after development of speech & language (1).


Summary:

If you're the concerned parents of a kid who has been diagnosed with congenital/sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) and is a candidate for an implant, now is the important time to intervene, because hearing affects a child's cognitive and social development. By postponing a cochlear implant, you are limiting or delaying your kid from attaining the same developmental milestones as their normal peers. The cochlear implant you choose must let your kid experience all of life's joys, possibilities, and enjoyment.

Neubio’s Take on it:

Neubio understands that each and every patient with hearing loss, from mild to moderate, severe to profound, or with congenital to acquired hearing loss (Noise related/Age related), has their own needs when it comes to hearing solutions. For medical-grade cochlear implants, Neubio knows, “what’s on the inside that matters the most”. Neubio is committed to providing state-of-the-art technology and understands the difference between hearing solutions based technology at all levels. Neubio suggests you to seek medical intervention as early as possible.


References:

  • http://adipcochlearimplant.in/ADIP_PDF/CI%20Candidacys.pdf

  • https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/cochlear-implants#a

  • https://www.babyhearing.org/devices/cochlear-implant-candidacy (Boys Town National Research Hospital).

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