Initial consultation with cochlear implant specialists
During the initial consultation, your child meets with a team of specialists for a hearing and communication evaluation. The team includes an audiologist, speech-language therapist, ENT consultant, family consultant, social worker, immunization specialist and radiologist.
The evaluation helps our specialists and your family decide whether your child would benefit from cochlear implants. During the process, we make sure each specialist is available to answer any questions you have about cochlear implant device options, the implantation process or post-implantation therapy. Our focus is on helping your family make the best decision for you.
In some cases, evaluation appointments may take place over the course of a few days. You may need to visit multiple Children's Colorado locations depending on the testing and services your child needs. We work with your family to find convenient appointments and locations.
Initial consultation with audiology
If we determine that your child is a good candidate for a cochlear implant, you will have a cochlear implant consultation with members of our team. We clearly explain the process, so you and your child understand what to expect.
Our specialists will help your family learn about all of your implant options. We may discover that a cochlear implant isn't right for your child, in which case we’ll work with you and your child to find the best therapies, support and treatment for them.
During your initial consultation, the cochlear implant team will also discuss and help you plan for:
- Using the new technology
- Participating in audiology appointments to fine-tune the device and ensure that your child is receiving all sounds
- Participating in aural habilitation therapy
- Working with your child at home
- Testing with and without hearing aids
After the initial consultation, you can expect to spend two to three weeks on follow-up testing and appointments. Follow-up testing may include labs and imaging, such as MRIs or CT scans, as well as consultations with neurologists, occupational therapists or physical therapists.
Speech-language and communication evaluation
Our speech-language pathologists (SLP) specialize in working with children who are deaf or hard of hearing. They help evaluate your child’s speech, language and communication skills. The SLP looks at different options for communication, with the focus of finding the communication mode that best fits with the child’s family. The SLP will also make recommendations and discuss expectations for therapy after the cochlear implant to help your child learn how to use the hearing from a cochlear implant for the best results.
Our program includes family consultants who have personally experienced hearing loss. They have the experience and empathy to best help children in the same situation.
Family consultants participate in the candidacy appointments and cochlear implant evaluations for personal perspective and emotional support for families. This position is unique to our program and is a great resource for families who are exploring device options.
Children and families will also meet with our hospital’s social work specialists and ENT consultants to ensure your child’s overall health and their readiness for surgery. These specialists will also discuss risks and benefits with you and your child.
Expert pediatric cochlear implant surgery
Cochlear implant surgery has two steps:
- Pediatric otolaryngologists (ear, nose and throat doctors) place the implant under the skin, behind the ear. This is the part of the device that transmits an electronic signal into the ear (through the cochlea), which then transmits it to the brain as sound.
- About two weeks after implant surgery, the speech processor (the piece worn on the head), is activated by the audiologist. This is the first time that the child will hear sound through the cochlear implant.
The surgery for the initial device can vary depending on the child's anatomy and the type of device. Most children go home the same day and typically do not have a significant amount of pain.
Expert cochlear implant programming by a pediatric audiologist
Two to three weeks after implantation surgery, your child returns to the hospital for cochlear implant activation. At this appointment, we fit and program the external receiver and teach your family how to use the device.
Your family returns again two to three weeks later for further programming and then again at 1, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months for fine-tuning of the device.
After the first year with a cochlear implant, we see children every six months for the next few years and then every year after that. At these appointments, we perform hearing and speech understanding tests, program device changes, monitor the equipment and discuss technology advances. We also collaborate with a child’s educational team when kids go to school.
Aural habilitation and speech-language therapy
Children require focused therapy and support to learn how to understand the new sounds from the cochlear implant and how to use those sounds.
The Cochlear Implant Program offers a number of therapy services, including aural (hearing) habilitation, or ways to improve daily skills, and speech-language therapy. Our team of speech-language therapists offers support in sign language, total communication and auditory-verbal techniques. We continue to provide speech and language support in the years following a cochlear implant.
Download the roadmap to learn more about the process of cochlear implant surgery:
Download the roadmap (.pdf) – In English