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What are the barriers preventing people from getting and using Cochlear implants?

The two main barriers are a lack of awareness that the technology exists, and the high cost of obtaining and maintaining a cochlear implant. Other barriers are no proximity/access to a CI center or no insurance coverage for follow-on services.

 

How much does the device and surgery cost?

The cost for CI surgery (which includes the device) can range from $75,000 to $125,000 depending on the hospital providing the surgery. Many commercial and public insurers cover this cost as well as pre and post-op services. After the initial warranty period, there are additional costs for parts repairs and replacement. Batteries will also be an annual expense and will vary depending on type selected.

Each CI manufacturer provides insurance advocates and links to companies to assist in this process when insurers are less inclined to fully cover the surgery and services needed. Those without insurance typically need to apply to the hospital or other organizations (like the GOHF) for financial assistance.

 

What age groups are eligible for Cochlear implants?

The FDA guidelines for implantation of babies is 12 months, but some surgeons have implanted babies as early as 8 months. There is no age limit in adults as long as the person is healthy enough to undergo surgery and passes the evaluation criteria.

Click on the link below to see specific FAQ’s regarding CI’s for children.

CICircle

 

How do I know if I should consider a cochlear implant?

The Food and Drug Administration has approved cochlear implants for individuals with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss greater than 70 dB HL and a score of less than 50% on open-set sentence testing. In lay terms that would be when you would have difficulty knowing that people are talking, understanding people when talking on the phone, or understanding conversation even with hearing aids. If this is your experience then you should consider being evaluated for CIs.

 

Where should I go to be evaluated for a ci?

It is best to go to a CI center that provides the surgery because they will have the multi-disciplinary team you need to be properly evaluated for a CI (e.g., CI surgeon, CI audiologist, CI social services, and ENT. For children, the team would also likely include a speech-language pathologist or teacher of the deaf).

 

What is included in a ci evaluation?

In all cases, a CI audiologist will perform an audiological exam and, if your hearing is poor enough, a CI surgeon will examine your ears for any contraindications or issues that would keep you from being surgically implanted. The surgeon would also order any necessary additional tests (e.g. CT scans, balance tests, etc.). In some cases, an ENT specialist will perform the initial exam, and then recommend a CI surgeon. In most cases the CI Center will arrange an appointment with a CI social worker or speech-language professional to discuss your specific needs, expectations, social/rehab issues and, for children; developmental and educational issues.

 

Is ci surgery painful?

Naturally, “pain” is a subjective thing! While many individuals may experience some dizziness and/or nausea for a short period of time, it is unusual for there to be any uncontrollable pain.

 

What types of follow-up therapy are required after ci activation?

Most CI recipients will require several additional audiology visits in their first year after activation for adjustments to their “mappings” (software) as the brain learns to hear using a bionic device. For adults, therapy is determined on a case-by-case basis. Many adult CI recipients who are congenitally deaf choose to obtain speech therapy, while many late-deafened, pre-lingual CI recipients require no therapy. Children with cochlear implants should already be involved in intervention to foster speech and language development. This intervention continues after activation with greater emphasis of learning to listen and developing spoken language.

 

How often must I return to the audiologist for mappings?

This is a highly individualized issue. Most CI recipients have several visits post-op while the brain adjusts to hearing with a bionic device and then they get yearly check-ups. Children are seen more frequently for mapping after the first year, usually every three months, and then every six months during the preschool and elementary school years. Mappings will also be required when upgrades are purchased for the processors, and sometimes it can take several visits to get the upgrades to optimal capacity. But again, our ears are as unique as we are, so this can vary greatly from person to person.

 

can I safely go through security scanners at airports with a ci?

Yes, no problem. You may sometimes hear a humming sound, or once in a while set off the metal detector. For this reason, it is wise to carry a medi-alert info card on you that states you have a CI. The manufacturers supply these with the equipment and they are easily replaced if lost.

Click here to order your special medi-alert bracelet from the Gift of Hearing Foundation!

 

Can I safely undergo medical testing with a CI?

While most medical procedures are not contraindicated with cochlear implants, you cannot undergo an MRI scan. Therefore, it is a good idea to wear a medi-alert bracelet in case of emergency to make medical personnel aware of the fact that you have a cochlear implant and cannot have an MRI.

Click here to order your special medi-alert bracelet from the Gift of Hearing Foundation!

 

Can you play contact sports with a ci?

Yes. Manufacturers provide accessories to help with this.

 

How long does the external processor last?

All manufacturers warranty the external processors for three years after activation. The longevity of a processor will of course depend on care and maintenance. With good care, it may last for several years after the warranty period. Other processor parts such as headpieces, microphones, and batteries, must be replaced as needed and have shorter life expectancy than the processor. Headpieces/microphones last approximately one to two years. Batteries are purchased as needed, depending upon power usage/requirements for your settings/mappings. Rechargeable batteries can last up to a year; disposables can last one to three days.

 

Who pays for a new processor?

Replacement for the processor and parts will depend on warranties. When no warranty exists, some insurance companies cover the cost; otherwise the patient must cover the cost or get assistance from the manufacturer advocates and/or linked companies.

 

Should I insure my processor?

Yes!! Check with the manufacturer of your CI equipment to determine what is covered under their initial warranty and pick up where that leaves off. Insurance coverage is offered by the CI manufacturers and you might also see if your home owners insurance will offer coverage for loss or theft.  

 

Want more information? Check out our educational brochures!

These brochures are FREE for everyone. We are happy to provide any quantity you wish for your support group, medical practice, or personal use.

Cochlear Implants: When Hearing Aids are Not Enough

CI Circle for Parents

 


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