COCHLEAR IMPLANT MYTHS
A great deal of misinformation exists surrounding cochlear implants. The myths surrounding these devices have caused many to question the decision to implant children. Waiting to Hear fully supports the individual family’s right to choose the right path for their child’s future whether that path involves implants, hearing aids, or sign language. We recognize the parent as the best decision maker for the child. Our goal is to educate the public about cochlear implants, and provide HONEST, FACTUAL, and EVIDENCE-BASED information so that families can make informed decisions regarding their child’s hearing future.
Myth 1: Cochlear Implant Surgery is major “Brian Surgery”:Cochlear implants are inserted under the skin and the electrode array is inserted into the cochlea (located in the inner ear). It is usually performed as an outpatient procedure, and many people go home the SAME DAY.
Myth 2: Cochlear implant surgery is life threatening. Cochlear implants have not caused any deaths according to the FDA. As with any surgery there are risks. However the success rate for cochlear implants is spectacularly high.
Myth 3: A cochlear implant will destroy all residual hearing. A cochlear implant may destroy some or all residual hearing. However more recent implant surgical techniques and newer implant designs have significantly improved the retention of residual hearing.
Myth 4: A cochlear implant candidate will require multiple CT and MRI scans.Typically recipients receive a CT and an MRI as part of the candidacy work up to make sure there are no anatomical problems that would prevent a CU from working. There is no need for routine follow up scans beyond this.
Myth 5: Parents should wait for children to be old enough to make their own decisions about whether to get a cochlear implant. Neural pathways are being formed in a child even before birth. And this is the case with the auditory side of brain development. More recent research is suggesting that the key foundations of auditory development occurs very early and it is very hard to change these pathways after a short period of time. What this points to is for a child to develop their auditory abilities, this development must start as early as possible, preferably before the age of 2yo. Starting later will compromise the child’s ability to develop normal levels of hearing and spoken language. Waiting until a child can comprehend the decision to get cochlear implants will almost certainly guarantee that the child will not be able to develop normal hearing and spoken language levels. In short, not making a decision is making a decision for the child to have sub-normal hearing and spoken language.
Myth 6: Cochlear implant hearing isn’t like normal hearing. Many adults report a high pitched or robotic sound when first implanted (like Minnie Mouse), However as the brain adapts the sound soon becomes much more natural and many users report the sound to be just as they remember before losing their natural hearing.
Myth 7: You cannot appreciate music with a CI. Earlier versions of implants made it difficult to appreciate music. As technology improved so did the ability to enjoy music. There are now specific programs designed for music, and many users not only enjoy, but also compose and play music. (Consider that when these first processors were available we were all listening to 8 track tapes…technology has come a long way since then.)
Myth 8: You cannot shower, or enjoy watersports with an implant.The implant itself is not exposed in any way. Users can shower, swim, and even scuba dive! Some newer processors are even waterproof and allow users to use the device in water…allowing them to HEAR while swimming!
Myth 9: Cochlear implants “cure” deafness.The cochlear implant allows deaf individuals to hear only while they are wearing their processor (resembles a hearing aid). If the user removes the processor he/she cannot hear until it is replaced. The processor is held in place with a magnet and is removed/reattached as easily as one can pull a magnet off a refrigerator.
Myth 10: Cochlear implant users cannot be around microwave ovens.False. Microwaves do not affect the implants in any way.
Myth 11: They will shave my head before surgery.Typically only a small amount of hair directly behind the ear is shaved (if any at all)
Myth 12: I will have a huge disfiguring scar after surgery.Typically a small incision is made directly behind the ear. The scar is not visible unless the ear is bent forward.
Myth 13: I will need multiple surgeries every few years. . Implants are designed to last a lifetime, and newer technology allows new processors to be used with existing implants…you can upgrade to new tech without surgery.
Myth 14: Cochlear implants fail all the time causing more surgery. Cochlear implants have an amazing safety record and have had very few recalls. (Fewer than even pacemakers).
Myth 15: I cannot fly. Cochlear implant users fly without issues (with the help of an airplane, of course). Flying is only prohibited for a few weeks after surgery.