Cochlear Implants for children

Frequently asked questions

What is a cochlear implant?

A cochlear implant is a device that helps some deaf or hard of hearing people hear. It has an internal part, and an external part. The internal part placed under the skin behind the ear and inside the inner ear by the doctor. The external part includes a microphone and a speech processor and is worn outside the ear.

What is the difference between a hearing aid and a cochlear implant?

A hearing aid is a device that amplifies sounds and is worn in the ear. A cochlear implant is a device that amplifies an electrical signal and is implanted in the cochlea (inner ear) by a surgical procedure.

Should my baby get a cochlear implant?

Getting a cochlear implant is a big step.

Learn everything you can about cochlear implants and talk with other people about implants:

  • Talk to the cochlear implant team about how it will help your child. If there is more than one implant center near you, talk to both of them.
  • Talk to other parents of children who have gotten cochlear implants about their experiences.
  • Talk to other deaf people about cochlear implants. Think about what your goals are for your child. Ask yourself how you think a cochlear implant will help your child reach those goals.

Will a cochlear implant help my baby hear better?

A cochlear implant is not a miracle cure for a hearing loss. The implant alone will not help your baby learn how to talk. The cochlear implant simply provides your baby with an opportunity to hear sound. The real work begins after your baby is implanted. You will spend many hours practicing listening and language skill before your baby will learn how to talk. The quality and quantity of language and listening practice will determine when and how fast your baby will learn how to talk.

What are the risks of getting a cochlear implant?

Like any surgery, there are risks that you should know about. Keep in mind that most of these operations do not have problems. Your doctor should explain all of the risks to you.

Are different approaches used in cochlear implant centers?

The team approach is used in many implant centers. The people on the team will evaluate your child and family to see if people on the team will evaluate your child and family to see if a cochlear implant is a good choice.

Here's a list of people who may be on the team:

  • An audiologist will test your child's hearing with and without hearing aids
  • A speech and language pathologist will test your child's language skills
  • An otolaryngologist will check to see if your child has an infection or other problem that would interfere with the implant. The doctor may order an MRI or CT scan to look at the structure of the inner ear.
  • A teacher of the deaf or educational consultant will tell you about educational programs for your child.
  • A social worker will talk to you about whether your family is able to do the work that is needed. The social worker may also help you figure out who will pay for the implant.
  • A psychologist will talk to you and your child about your goals, concerns and fears about cochlear implantation.

Now that my child wears a cochlear implant, why would he (she) need to wear a hearing aid in the non-implanted ear?

A child who has a cochlear implant in one ear and severe hearing loss with no amplification in the other ear can only listen with one ear.

Try plugging one ear when talking to a friend in a noisy environment and you’ll soon notice that it becomes difficult to understand what your friend is saying. Using two ears to listen makes it easier to listen in noisy situations, and makes it easier for you to locate where sounds come from. Your child cannot enjoy these advantages that you have when he or she listens with amplification only in one ear.

Furthermore, if your child does not make use of the residual hearing in the non-implanted ear, that ear may gradually lose its ability to analyse sounds. Without amplification, the ear is not stimulated by sounds and it won’t be able to work so well if and when your child needs to call on it in the future.

Where can I learn more about cochlear implants?

Since 2009 Phonak is partnering with a leading cochlear implant company, Advanced Bionics LLC. Both companies have always had a long standing commitment towards children with impaired hearing, their families and the professionals that support them.

Read up on the experience of families that have chosen Advanced Bionics as their partner:

Read the latest on Advanced Bionics products and their leading performance on