Each year, two or three of every 1,000 babies born in the United States are identified as deaf or hard of hearing. For some of these children, a cochlear implant will provide the opportunity to learn to communicate through listening and spoken language.
The Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital Cochlear Implant Program began in 1996. Our multidisciplinary team approach provides education and guidance for the patient and family before, during and after placement of a cochlear implant.
What is a Cochlear Implant?
A cochlear implant is a device that is used for children with severe to profound hearing loss who do not benefit from traditional hearing aids. Hearing aids make sounds louder, but for some infants and children, even the most powerful hearing aids cannot make sounds both loud enough and clear enough for the child to learn to listen and speak.
A cochlear implant system consists of a surgically implanted portion and an external speech processor. The speech processor captures sound and codes it to be sent to the internal device. Electrical contacts on the implanted portion send information directly to the hearing nerve, which then transmits the signals to the auditory centers of the brain.
Who is a Candidate?
- Children up to 16 years of age
- Children diagnosed with severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss
- Children who have worn hearing aids for at least 3-6 months
- Children who have been unsuccessful learning to listen and talk despite intensive therapy
- Medically appropriate for the cochlear implant surgery
- Appropriate family support and expectations
The child must be enrolled in individualized therapy with an auditory based component prior to being considered for evaluation, with direct parental involvement in the therapy.
The Evaluation Process
Each child and family participates in an evaluation process to determine eligibility. Using a multidisciplinary approach, our Cochlear Implant Team considers the "whole child," including auditory, linguistic, social and emotional aspects of development. The team includes members from: Pediatric Audiology, Speech-Language Pathology, Social Work Services, Pediatric Otolaryngology, and Family and Child Services, along with Deaf Educators and other professionals involved in the child's care. A representative from each discipline will consult with the family to develop recommendations specific to the child's individual needs.
Our goal is to not only determine the child's eligibility for the cochlear implant surgery, but also to include the family as part of our team. We work together with the family to create and maintain the appropriate long-term therapy and care that will help the child benefit as much as possible from the cochlear implant device.