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