Cochlear implants provide meaningful access to sound for those with more severe hearing loss. Even the most advanced hearing aids may not overcome the hearing difficulties associated with severe to profound hearing impairment. A cochlear implant bypasses the damaged areas of the cochlea and may provide improved hearing abilities for speech understanding and the perception of music and environmental sounds.
In the early years of cochlear implantation and throughout the 1990s, adults who had experienced early deafness (either born deaf or having lost hearing during early childhood), were generally considered unsuitable candidates for cochlear implantation. This perspective was guided by research on children. Research demonstrated the significant impact of a child's age at implantation; children implanted at a younger age, on average, have better outcomes. The expectation was also driven by outcomes of adult CI recipients who lost their hearing as adults, findings which have consistently demonstrated diminished outcomes with longer duration of hearing loss among the population whose hearing loss was within the CI candidacy range.
A guideline utilizing commonly collected patient data can be used to aid audiologists in knowing when to refer an adult to a CI center for a CI evaluation. Patients should be referred if they demonstrate a best ear unaided monosyllabic word score less than or equal to 60% correct and if they demonstrate an unaided pure-tone average in their better ear that is greater than or equal to 60 dB HL. The recommended guideline is the results of a study of 529 patients who participated in a cochlear implant candidacy evaluation.
American Cochlear Implant Alliance offers an auditory rehabilitation resource, Naama’s Blog. The Blog provides support to adults who are either candidates for, or recipients of, cochlear implants and their families. Please click HERE to view blog entry topics.