Cochlear Implants: Child

Profoundly deaf children who use cochlear implants to hear often say their quality of life is equal to their normal-hearing peers.

Cochlear implants don’t seem to magnify psycho-social problems for wearers."

Betty Loy, Au.D.
Clinical Research Manager
Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery

In addition, the earlier a child is implanted with a cochlear device and the longer he or she wears the device, the better overall quality of life the child reports and the more successful the child is in school.

Cochlear implants are small electronic devices that are surgically implanted in the inner ear and activated by another device worn outside the ear. They bypass damaged or diseased parts of the ear by directly stimulating the auditory nerve, which is connected to the brain.

Approximately 188,000 people worldwide have received cochlear implants as of 2009, according to the Food and Drug Administration. In the United States, roughly 41,500 adults and 25,500 children have received them.

What to Expect

Once it’s determined that your child is a candidate for cochlear implant evaluation, the following steps typically occur.

Preliminary Coordination

  1. Your doctor at Children’s Medical Center or the James W. Aston Ambulatory Care Center requests an implant packet from the Callier Center for Communication Disorders at UT Dallas.
  2. Complete the intake packet and return it to the Cochlear Implant Coordinator at the Callier Center in the envelope provided.
  3. Once the packet is returned to Callier, insurance benefits are verified and outside records are requested (from school, family doctor, etc.).
  4. Once insurance benefits are verified and approved and outside records are received, your child will be scheduled for the cochlear implant evaluations at the Callier Center.

Testing, Evaluation, and Discussion

  1. Testing at the Callier Center includes speech and language evaluation, hearing, and ear function testing.
  2. The results of these tests will be discussed with you and sent to Peter Roland, M.D., and other doctors you may request.
  3. If you and your family decide to proceed, choose your child’s device and the accessories that come with it. A team member will assist you, but the final decision is up to you and your family.
  4. Also during this time your child should receive a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study. MRI gives the doctor a picture of the cochlea (the inner ear) and hearing nerve to help determine if your child is a good candidate for implantation and if so, which ear to implant.

Surgery and Beyond

  1. Surgery is scheduled. Once you have a surgery date you are responsible for making an appointment with Callier for initial implant hook-up and mapping.
  2. Approximately one month after surgery, allowing time to heal, the audiologist at Callier will hook up the outside part of the implant and create a map for your child.
  3. These mapping visits will continue as needed.
  4. We strongly recommend speech/language therapy with an emphasis on learning to listen with a cochlear implant for the enhanced development of listening, speech, and language.