A cochlear implant is an electronic device that partially restores hearing in people who have severe hearing loss due to damage of the inner ear and who don't benefit from hearing aids. A processor behind the ear captures and processes sound signals, which are transmitted to a receiver implanted behind the ear. The receiver sends the signals through wires to the snail-shaped inner ear (cochlea), then via the auditory nerve to the brain, which interprets them as a form of hearing. It takes time and training to learn to interpret the signals received from a cochlear implant.
Although results vary from person to person, most find that cochlear implants help them communicate better and improve their quality of life. They report:
- Improved ability to hear speech without needing visual cues
- Improved ability to recognize normal, everyday environmental sounds
- Improved speech reading
- The ability to hear soft sounds
- The ability to find where sounds are coming from
Why choose Mayo Clinic for cochlear implants
- Skilled teams. Each Mayo Clinic location has a specialized team for evaluating, treating and rehabilitating hearing loss. These teams include ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists, audiologists and speech-language pathologists.
- Experience. Each year, our cochlear implant teams implant more than 150 Food and Drug Administration-approved cochlear implant systems in adults and children.
- Long-term support. Mayo Clinic providers are committed to the long-term support of people who receive a cochlear implant, from the initial fitting and programming of the device, through rehabilitation, to ongoing management of device performance.
- Continuous improvement. Mayo researchers are continually trying to improve cochlear implant technology and care, with a special focus on hybrid devices that blend hearing aid and cochlear implant technologies.
Read more about cochlear implants at Mayo.