Physicians Hearing Care has been helping residents of Knoxville with their hearing since 1976. One of the reasons we can provide our excellent care is thanks to the extensive group of medical health specialists we partner with.

Even though cochlear implants have been around since the ’70s (just like us), the recent strides in hearing technology are astounding.

While cochlear implants may not be the solution for everyone, it’s good to know that it is available to you and can now be provided by one of our professional audiologists.

Before getting cochlear implants, it’s essential to know if you are a candidate for them to help your unique listening needs. Cochlear implants are typically best for those with a severe to profound hearing loss. The only way to determine the status of your hearing is through a comprehensive hearing assessment.

Once we have your test results, we can develop a plan for your hearing that may involve cochlear implants or prescription hearing aids.

What Are Cochlear Implants?

A cochlear implant is a simple surgical procedure that implants an electrode in the inner ear just under the skin. It pairs with a sound processor and receiver that fits discreetly behind your ear.

The sound processor is placed behind the ear to process incoming sounds. It does this by digitizing the sound signals and then sending these electrical signals to the implanted electrode in the cochlea. This is then related straight to the brain for processing.

This implant will not cure deafness, but it will help people hear sounds again and process them. This is a huge step forward in preventing any cognitive decline that could occur from severe hearing loss.

Key Differences Between Cochlear Implants And Hearing Aids

Cochlear implants require a short surgical procedure to implant the receiver just under your skin. It’s this component that makes it different from hearing aids.

Cochlear implants can be more effective than prescription hearing aids because they bypass the ear canal and transmit sounds as an electrical signal rather than amplifying sound.

Prescription hearing aids are typically more discrete and can help those with a severe hearing loss as well. However, cochlear implants are used when hearing aids can no longer provide an adequate solution.

What Is The Procedure For A Cochlear Implant?

A cochlear implant is done under a general anesthetic and the procedure requires less than a day of your time.

In addition to this, a series of in-person and virtual visits for the few months following the surgery is required. These follow-ups will be with both an audiologist and a speech-language pathologist.

We do this for two reasons:

  1. The sounds the brain hears are different from what the recipient is used to. It takes time working with an experienced pathologist to learn how to distinguish the differences.
  2. Activating the cochlear implant is done in tiny steps by an audiologist, building from soft sounds to familiar sounds over time. Unlike prescription hearing aids, there is a slight learning curve to accessing the full benefits of cochlear implants.

The implanted electrode should last a lifetime. Any updates that need to be made can be done via the external components located behind your ear.

Who Will Get The Most From Cochlear Implants?

People living with a long-term hearing loss will see the most benefits from cochlear implants. This solution is a secondary option for those who don’t receive enough help from hearing aids alone.

Due to the damage incurred throughout someone’s ear, cochlear implants can be used to turn the sound signals into electrical signals to be processed easier by the brain.

Can You Have An Active Lifestyle With Cochlear Implants?

The great news is that almost every activity can be done with a cochlear implant. The only activities to avoid involve extreme changes in pressure. Examples are skydiving and scuba diving.

The external processor is removed for swimming and showering, and protective headgear is worn for activities such as football or boxing.

Once you have taken the time to adapt, the transformation in your hearing can be astounding.

What Are The First Steps Toward Getting Cochlear Implants?

The first step is to meet with one of our cochlear specialists. We need access to your hearing status to identify whether cochlear implants will be the right solution for you.

Cochlear implants are just one of the many ways we assist our communities across Knoxville. Your hearing is crucial to your quality of life, so we’re here to provide a solution that works uniquely for you.

If you have any further questions, please call us anytime. We are always standing by, ready to help in any way we can.

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Dr. Kalyn Bradford Au.D.

Dr. Kalyn Bradford is the director of hearing aid services here at Physician's Hearing Care. She completed her externship with Physician's Hearing Care in 2013 and subsequently joined the practice in 2014 after graduating with her doctoral degree in audiology from Louisiana Tech University. She joined PHC as a clinical audiologist, where she performed comprehensive audiological exams and specialized in helping patients to hear better using the latest hearing aid technology available. She has carried that experience into her current role as director of hearing aid services, where she does an excellent job managing the audiologists to ensure that all patients are treated with the best hearing care possible.