hearing; cochlear implants; audiology; hearing aids
A cochlear implant is an electronic medical device that replaces the function of the damaged inner ear, allowing the individual access to sound. In recent years, there has been tremendous progress in developing technology in the area of cochlear implants to aid those with severe/profound hearing loss. Specifically, there has been a movement towards bilateral implantation. Each cochlear implant candidate has a unique hearing loss, and must reach required bench marks in order to be considered a viable candidate for a cochlear implant. This process includes: meeting the required level of hearing loss, a required trial with hearing aids that must be concluded as unsuccessful for the candidate, selection for cochlear implant candidacy, device selection, and implantation.
A candidate may experience their hearing loss at any point in their lives; such as from a birth defect or suffering a sudden hearing loss at age 30. For this reason, the time frame in which a candidate progresses through the cochlear implant process can vary greatly. In children, early implantation is pursued in hopes to capitalize on the language acquisition period of the child. For adults, the time frame is often determined by external influences, such as family support, work schedule, impact of hearing loss on life. Cochlear implants within adults are less common, as the language acquisition period is passed.
This case study aimed to examine and tediously review the process a single cochlear implant candidate underwent before implantation; analyzing the participant’s unique case history, educational history, and hearing instrument experience over their lifetime. This data was collected in questionnaire form and interview form, and compiled in chronological order to portray the progression through the participant’s hearing history. Valuable information about the life altering impacts of cochlear implants was collected directly from the participant in hopes to better prepare future candidates and audiologists working with them. As the number of cochlear implants continues to rise, future studies could also be performed to establish a greater understanding of the impact the procedure can have.