​​​​​​What is meant by "benefit" or "success" with a cochlear implant?

Important facts to keep in mind:

  • Cochlear implant surgery should be viewed as the first step in a long process
  • Each child will have varied performance with the cochlear implant
  • Benefits from cochlear implants are not immediate – improvements occur over a period of months to years
  • It is difficult to predict how much speech understanding a child with a cochlear implant will obtain after long-term use of the cochlear implant and how clear his/her speech will be
  • The amount of benefit seen is linked to the age of a child at the time of implantation, the cause of the hearing loss, device use, the child's cognitive development, family support and involvement, and adherence to all recommended appointments including programming, aural rehabilitation, and early intervention services.

Reasonable Expectations:

The child’s hearing and medical history as well as the family’s adherence to recommendations are the two biggest factors that will affect outcomes. Therefore, expectations for a child’s outcomes with the cochlear implant can vary and may change even after implantation.

In general, expectations for a child with a cochlear implant may include one or all of the following:

  • Improved detection of environmental sounds and speech
  • Improved speechreading ability
  • Improved clarity of the child's speech
  • Development of listening and spoken language skills

Factors that Enhance Outcomes with a Cochlear Implant

  • Consistent, full-time use of the device
  • Parent participation in the child's educational process
  • Support services from a number of professionals: audiologists, speech-language pathologists, educators, surgeons

In a small number of cases, a child may show only limited benefit from the cochlear implant or seemingly no benefit at all. This can generally be linked to factors such as:

  • Inconsistent or limited use of the implant
  • A significant malformation of the cochlea or to a hearing nerve that has a very limited number of nerve fibers. In other words, the cochlear implant is sending a signal, but the structures needed to pass the signal on to the brain are not there or have limited function.
  • Inadequate or inappropriate educational or therapy services

School Placements

A variety of school placements​ are possible for children with cochlear implants. To make the most of a cochlear implant, a child needs to ​be in a program that clearly states and supports listening and speaking goals.

All programs regardless of communication modality can emphasize listening and speaking goals. Children in auditory oral, simultaneous communication or manual communication programs can all benefit from listening therapy or auditory training.​

  • A child's individual communication goals, strengths, and abilities should be used to determine the best educational setting
  • Placement should not be based solely on the fact that a cochlear implant is in use
  • Educational and support service needs must be assessed for each child​