There’s a Wide Variety in How Doctors Determine Cochlear Implant Candidacy

January 13, 2020

If you suffer from severe hearing loss, cochlear implants can be an intriguing solution. Instead of traditional hearing aids in Waterloo, IA, which rely on enhancing external acoustics, cochlear implants are surgically-implanted devices that directly stimulate the auditory nerve, which interprets and transmits sound information to the brain.

Cochlear implants have long been thought to be ideal for those with the most severe hearing loss, but recent studies have shown that there are many candidates for cochlear implants who haven’t had access to the treatment. This is due to a lack of standardized testing protocols—doctors don’t know or agree on the candidacy criteria.

Changing standards for cochlear implant candidacy

A recent study at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine states that less than 9 percent of patients who should qualify for cochlear implants actually use this technology. The study’s author, Dr. Sandra Prentiss, PhD, CCC-A, suggests that this is because many doctors don’t understand the changing technology or treatment recommendations. For example, 15 years ago, only people with severe hearing loss qualified for the implants.

Today, cochlear implant technology has improved, thanks to new advancements in both the surgical technique and how the electrodes are designed, which make them a suitable option for the elderly and others who haven’t responded well to traditional hearing aids.

Dr. Prentiss believes that doctors and audiologists should go beyond looking at hearing loss “on paper,” and focus more on their quality of life, cognitive state and how willing they are to perform the necessary rehabilitation exercises.

When are cochlear implants right for you?

According to the manufacturers of cochlear implants, the current criteria for adults over 18 is moderate to severe sensorineural hearing loss in both ears, as well as a 50 percent or lower sentence recognition in the ear to be implanted, which does not benefit from amplification. Children ages 2 to 17 require severe to profound hearing loss in both ears, and children under two require profound hearing loss, among other factors.

Are cochlear hearing aids right for you? Thanks to the changing standards and technology, that answer no longer hinges solely on your level of hearing loss. If you’re interested in finding out whether you’ll qualify for cochlear implants, you should talk to your audiologist about how they may or may not be able to improve your quality of life. Cochlear implants won’t be right for everyone, but they can be life-changing for many.

Hearing aid store in Waterloo, IA

From hearing tests and cleanings to fittings to maintenance and repair, Potter’s Hearing Aid Service is here to help. We are a local, independently-owned hearing aid store in Waterloo, IA that has been serving our customers since 1986. You can come to us for all your hearing aid needs. We take pride in meeting the needs of each individual customer by pinpointing your hearing issues, helping you select the right hearing aid and making sure it works well for years to come. Call or stop by today to see why our customers love us.

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