Cochlear implants are medical miracles. They have the ability to overcome even the most severe cases of hearing loss that can't be corrected by hearing aids alone. However, there is still a lot of misinformation about how to get a cochlear implant.
Step 1 - Becoming a candidate
Cochlear implant candidacy criteria can be slightly different depending on where you go. It always starts with an audiogram which will likely reveal poor word recognition ability. Following the audiogram you will perform sound field testing. This is where you wear hearing aids programmed appropriately to your prescription.
If you score poorly enough, you will likely be a candidate for a cochlear implant (or two). There are other things that can be used to determine candidacy which include a support network of family and friends, questionnaires to determine health status, and an MRI or CT or both to determine if your anatomy is favorable to implantation.
Step 2 - The Road to Cochlear Implantation
This process can take anywhere between 3 months and 2+ years. It can often involve attending a cochlear implant seminar, vaccinations, expectation questionnaires, medical clearance, receiving insurance prior approval, and deciding on which cochlear implant technology is right for you.
Once you complete these criteria you are ready to get schedule for your cochlear implant surgery.
Step 3 - Surgery
Surgery is not as scary as you might think. It is an outpatient procedure that takes only 2-4 hours depending on if you get one or two implants. Some people don't even use prescription pain medications after cochlear implant surgery. The surgery involves an incision behind the ear. The surgeon will drill a well for your magnet and a small hole for an electrode that will coil into your cochlea. Then they sew you back up and it's over. It really is that simple. Surgeons implant people under 1 year old to people over 100 years old.
Ultimately, if you think you might need a cochlear implant, you need to schedule an appointment with an audiologist. If they identify you would possibly be a candidate then they will refer you to the proper medical professional for a cochlear implant candidacy evaluation.Don't let fear of the unknown or fear of surgery prevent you from making possibly the best decision of your life.