How Cochlear Implants Work:

Answers to Your Frequently Asked Questions

Cochlear implants are not just for patients with significant hearing loss.  Cochlear implants can also be used to help improve the hearing of patients with mild to moderate hearing loss.

Cochlear implants are electronic devices that are surgically implanted in a person’s skull. These devices work by bypassing the damaged parts of the ear and directly stimulating the auditory nerve to produce sound.   Hearing through a cochlear implant is like if someone turned up the normal hearing volume control – all sounds come into focus at once, and speech can be understood with ease. 

With a cochlear implant, people with severe hearing loss can benefit from improved sound quality.  While cochlear implants do not guarantee to cure hearing loss completely, they are still hugely beneficial for people who are born deaf or with severe hearing impairments.

How does a Cochlear Implant work?

A cochlear implant works by bypassing damaged portions of the ear and directly stimulating the auditory nerve. Signals generated by the cochlear implant are sent by way of the auditory nerve to the brain, which recognizes these signals as sound.

Cochlear Implant Eligibility

To be eligible for a cochlear implant, a patient must have:

  • Severe hearing loss
  • Limited benefit from hearing aids as determined by specialized hearing tests carried out by an audiologist
  • No medical conditions or risk factors that increase the risks associated with cochlear implant surgery

For Severe Hearing Loss

Cochlear implants can help restore hearing in patients with severe hearing loss who no longer find hearing aids to be working for them.

Cochlear implants may be placed in one or both ears. Implanting these devices in both ears is starting to be used more often to treat bilateral severe hearing loss. Infants and children who are still learning how to speak are stellar candidates for cochlear implant surgery in both ears.

Cochlear Implants for Children

Cochlear implants work best with kids because their hearing is still developing.  With a cochlear implant, hard of hearing children can learn to understand speech and build vocabulary.

Studies have shown that children who are fitted with cochlear implants before the age of 18 months have greater chances of hearing improvement.

How does someone receive a cochlear implant?

The surgery for cochlear implant is done in a clinic or hospital. The procedure lasts between two to four hours.  A patient will be given medication (general anesthesia) during the procedure. The surgeon will make a cut behind the ear and open the mastoid bone to place the cochlear implant.

Just like any other invasive procedure, getting a surgery may pose some risks. However, the surgery for cochlear implant is quite simple compared to other complicated surgeries. Most patients feel well enough and are sent home a few hours or a day after the surgery.

What to expect after a cochlear implant surgery

After getting a cochlear implant, a patient needs to get used to interpreting sounds created by the implants.

Initially, the sounds may sound a little bit weird or strange. Audiologists or speech-language pathologists can help patients get used to cochlear implants.

Audiologists won’t activate the cochlear implants for about two to six weeks after the surgery. This is to give the surgery site ample time to heal.

How long do cochlear implants last?

For most patients, the sound quality of cochlear implants will continually improve over the first year.  Cochlear implants are a lifelong commitment. Patients will usually be set up for a batch of programming appointments and/or therapy starting one month after surgery.

Cochlear Implants Massachusetts:

The results of cochlear implant surgery vary from person to person. Some factors that can affect the result of cochlear implantation include length of time between hearing loss and cochlear implant surgery, age when hearing was lost, and type of hearing loss.


Atlantic Hearing Care offers consulting services for patients who would like to know more about different hearing loss solutions.  Whether you are considering hearing aids or cochlear implants, we can help you achieve better hearing. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

The first step towards better hearing health is an appointment with our expert staff. Contact us today:

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990 Paradise Rd, Suite 3A
Swampscott, MA 01907


2 First Ave, Suite 127-1
Peabody, MA 01960


Call 781-581-1500

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