The first step in cochlear implant evaluation is to check for the amount of hearing loss. You will need a routine hearing test (an audiogram) as well as specialized hearing tests with your hearing aids on.
We will also usually perform either a computed tomography (ct) or magnetic resonance image (mri) scan to look at the anatomy of your inner ear and hearing nerves. We will also arrange vaccinations to prevent a form of meningitis. As with any surgery, you will have a checkup of your general health.
What the surgery involves?
Surgery is performed under general anesthesia. An incision is made behind the ear, which will eventually heal in a natural crease or be hidden by the hair. Sometimes a small strip of hair is shaved. The bone behind the ear is drilled in order to reach the cochlea, which is the part of the inner ear responsible for hearing. The main body of the cochlear implant is then placed against the bone of the skull, and an electrode (a thin wire) is placed inside the cochlea. The wound is then closed with stitches. The cochlear implant is completely covered by your skin and muscles. Nothing comes through the skin. (later, an external speech processor will be placed over your ear. This external device will wirelessly communicate with the cochlear implant that was placed during surgery.)
What to expect after surgery?
After surgery, a bandage will be placed over the area for several days. You may go home the same day, or stay a night in the hospital. This depends on your age, your health, and the surgeon. Healing occurs over several weeks. Once this is complete, the the cochlear implant will not usually be noticeable (except temporarily in infants), unless you feel it with your fingertips.
When will the device be turned on and what will it sound like?
The device will be activated (turned on for the first time) about two weeks after surgery. The first time you hear with with a cochlear implant, the sounds are often unusual or “electronic” sounding. With time and practice, the sound will become more natural. Learning occurs over months to years. The more you leave the device on and listen with it, the better your ultimate hearing ability will be. Most people have a significant improvement in understanding speech, and can often talk on the telephone.
The cochlear implant music engineering group (cimeg) was formed in 2014 and is made up of a cadre of passionate individuals including cochlear implant surgeons, cochlear implant audiologists, music engineers, composers, and imaging specialists. Despite cochlear implant listeners’ excellent performance on speech discrimination, the enjoyment and perception of music remains poor. The goal of our research is to enhance music enjoyment among cochlear implantees by investigating the features of music that affect its perception and enjoyment.
These features include different aspects of music such as reverberation, rhythm, instrument, and overtones, among others. Our novel approach involves re-engineering music to reduce the complexity of music, which has the potential to make listening more enjoyable for a listener with a cochlear implant. We are also interested in developing a tool to better evaluate speech enjoyment in cochlear implant users.