Children's Hospital Colorado
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Audiology, Speech and Learning Care

Cochlear Implant Program

The Cochlear Implant Program at Children's Hospital Colorado is a multidisciplinary program specializing in evaluation, treatment and follow-up care for infants, children, teens and young adults with hearing loss. We provide consultations, cochlear device implantation and a range of speech, language and communication therapy.

Hearing conditions we treat

  • Congenital hearing loss
  • Progressive hearing loss
  • Cochlear malformations
  • Hearing loss due to meningitis
  • Unilateral and bilateral implantation
  • Hearing loss associated with syndromes and other medical conditions

Our hearing and implant services

Thanks to our multidisciplinary team, the Cochlear Implant Program can offer so much more than implants. Our experts help families and children who are deaf or hard of hearing through:

Initial consultation with cochlear implant audiologist

During the initial consultation, an audiologist, a medical professional that examines and treats hearing loss, will evaluate your child's hearing and communication. Our cochlear implant audiologists specialize in working with families to determine if a child is a candidate for cochlear implantation, as well as prepare the family for life after the implant.

Here's what you can expect during an initial consultation:

  • Multiple hearing tests: We will administer multiple tests, both with and without hearing aids.
  • A full day of appointments: You will see multiple specialists over the course of the day. However, there will be time for breaks, such as for eating or playing, between appointments.
  • Appointments with different specialists: Each specialist will evaluate your child and answer any questions you have about the consultation, implantation or therapy process.
  • Access to a family consultant or social worker: Family consultants and social workers serve as a resource for your family and will make sure that you understand your child's results.

In some cases, 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 will work with your family to find convenient appointments and locations.

Hearing device consultation

During a cochlear implant consultation, you will meet each member of our cochlear implant team to learn how a cochlear implant works, discuss expectations for outcomes and hear about potential risks and benefits of receiving a cochlear implant. Our experts will help you and your child learn about the various implant options available and determine if a cochlear device is right for your child. You will also meet a social worker, family consultant, pediatric otolaryngologist (also called an ear, nose and throat doctor, or ENT) and speech-language pathologist during your visit.

Many people assume that the cochlear implant will "fix" a child's hearing and that it will happen quickly. However, cochlear device implantation is actually a process. During your device consultation, an audiologist will discuss and help you plan for:

  • Using the new technology
  • Participating in audiology appointments to fine-tune the device and ensure that the child is receiving all sounds
  • Participating in aural habilitation therapy
  • Working with the child at home

After the device consultation, it will take two to three weeks to schedule follow-up testing and appointments. Follow-up testing may include labs and X-rays, as well as consultations with neurology, occupational therapy or physical therapy. These appointments are needed to make sure a cochlear implant is right for your child.

Speech-language and communication evaluation

With the help of a speech-language therapist, we will evaluate your child for speech, language and communication.

Family consultant available

Our program includes a family consultant who personally uses a cochlear implant and hearing aid. This family consultant participates in the candidacy appointments and cochlear implant evaluations to provide a personal perspective and serve as an emotional support and resource for families. This position is unique to our program and is a great resource for families who are exploring device options.

Expert pediatric cochlear implant

Our surgeons are experts in pediatric otolaryngology and work exclusively with children. During a cochlear implant surgery, pediatric otolaryngologists place the cochlear implant in your child's ear. The implant has two parts, one that sits behind the ear and the second that is surgically placed under the skin.

Surgery times can vary depending on the child's anatomy and the type of device. Most children will go home the same day. They will leave with a wrap on their head and they may be under the weather for a few days, but typically do not have a significant amount of pain.

Expert cochlear implant programming by a pediatric audiologist

Cochlear implant "activation" takes place approximately two to three weeks after the surgery. At this appointment, we fit and program the external device. We review the equipment with the family and our audiologists teach the family how to use the device. The family returns typically 2 to 3 weeks later for further programming and then again at 1, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months for programming and fine-tuning of the device.

After the first year, children are seen twice annually for the next few years and then every year after that. At these appointments, hearing tests and speech understanding tests are performed, we program device changes, monitor the equipment and discuss accessories. We also collaborate with a child’s educational team on technologies and expectations when kids go to school.

Aural habilitation and speech-language therapy

Children require focused therapy to learn how to make sense of the new sounds from the cochlear implant, as well as support in learning how to use those sounds. The Cochlear Implant Program offers a number of therapy services, including aural (hearing) habilitation and speech-language therapy. Our team of speech-language therapists offer support in a variety of communication modes, including sign language, total communication and auditory-verbal techniques. We continue to provide speech and language support in the years following a cochlear implant.

Meet the Cochlear Implant Program team

Our multidisciplinary team includes pediatric expert audiologists, speech-language therapists, social workers, deaf and hard of hearing educators and family consultants. Our surgeons are experienced pediatric otolaryngologists who specialize in surgeries of the ear, including cochlear implantation. We treat the whole child by consulting with other specialists, including eye doctors, developmental pediatricians and neurologists, depending on each patient’s needs and conditions. Each of our team members has worked with children who use cochlear implants and their families for many years and will be able to help answer your questions.

Why Choose Children's Colorado for your child's cochlear implant?

Considering the various treatment and communication options available for a child who is hard of hearing or deaf can be overwhelming. At Children's Colorado, we use a team approach to look at all aspects of a child's life to ensure optimal communication outcomes. Our pediatric experts will evaluate each child and help families decide if a cochlear implant is the right treatment option.

Cochlear Implant Roadmap

We also work with families to find the best therapies and support for children with hearing problems, even if a cochlear implant isn't right for them. We collaborate with the child's family, early interventionists, speech-language therapists and school to ensure the best care and hearing for children. Our experts evaluate the whole child and provide family support as they explore cochlear implant options. We are committed to ensuring every child reaches their potential and we believe in the power of family-focused care and education.

Learn how we help kids through the cochlear implant surgery process.

Download the road map (.pdf)

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