Southern Cochlear Implant Programme

Frequently asked questions

What is a cochlear implant?

A cochlear implant is an electronic device surgically implanted to give access to spoken language for patients with severe to profound hearing loss.

Will a cochlear implant restore normal hearing?

While it does provide a sense of sound, it is important to understand that a cochlear implant does not restore normal hearing. People may still experience difficulty hearing in background noise or other group or difficult listening situations. Outcomes vary from patient to patient.

What does the cochlear implant consist of?

The entire system consists of two main parts, the implanted electrode array and the externally worn speech processor equipment. The cochlear implant is surgically placed in the ear. The electrode array is placed into the cochlea.

How can I get referred?

A referral to the programme can be made by ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists specialists, audiologists, and advisors on deaf children.

Are there age limits for a cochlear implant?

There are no minimum or maximum age limits for cochlear implantation. If you are deemed an appropriate candidate, we will assist you with appropriate treatment.

How long does the implant surgery take?

The operation takes approximately two hours and is carried out under a general anaesthetic. Once the cochlear implant operation is completed, staff will perform some initial implant testing in the operating theatre. This testing is in preparation for the subsequent activation of the sound processor.

Can you hear after the surgery?

No. At this point only the internal parts of the device have been fitted. Depending on you or your child’s recovery after surgery, you may have your device activated within 1-2 days after the operation. Otherwise there may be a wait of up to 14 days after surgery to allow any swelling or tenderness around the implant site to subside, before the external parts of the device are fitted. The external processor is adjusted to you or your child’s individual hearing responses.

When does switching on the implant take place?

Activation of the cochlear may occur the day after surgery in some cases but there may be a wait of up to two weeks after implantation. Individuals respond differently on the first day of activation or ‘switch-on’. It will take time to adjust to the new sound. This can be quite an emotional experience for a patient and their family.

What happens after switch-on?

Follow-up programming and support will continue in the months following switch-on. The total number of appointments varies from children and adults, and will be determined by a patient’s progress and needs.

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