Since 2003, the cochlear implant program at Children's Healthcare of Mississippi and Batson Children's Hospital has helped hearing-impaired children throughout the Southeast to improve their sound awareness and communication.
Providing the only comprehensive pediatric cochlear implant program in the state, Batson Children's Hospital offers profoundly deaf infants and children the hope of improved long-term hearing and communication. Our team includes an auditory/oral speech/language pathologist, education specialist, pediatric audiologists and ear surgeons, all with the goal of helping children hear.
A cochlear implant, commonly called a "bionic ear," is a small electronic device with one section behind the ear and another surgically placed beneath the skin. Rather than a hearing aid, which amplifies sound, the implants use an electric field to directly stimulate auditory nerves inside the cochlea, or inner ear.
The implants have several functioning parts: a microphone, speech processor and an RF transducer are located in an external, removable headpiece, while an internal coil implanted beneath the skin relays the incoming signal to 22 implanted electrodes in the cochlea. The internal and external coils connect through the skin behind the ears by tiny magnets.
Children may be screened for cochlear implant surgery when they are as young as 6 months old. The evaluation begins with testing with one of our audiologists and speech-language pathologists as well as a meeting with a social worker. Families are counseled that cochlear implants will not instantly restore hearing and that rehabilitation is essential to success. Those who are deemed candidates and can commit to the rehabilitation process will then meet with the surgeon and undergo a CT scan of the temporal bones.
The surgery lasts about two hours and is performed on an outpatient basis or as an overnight stay. Intra-operative testing is usually done to check the device and to determine at what level the cochlear nerve is stimulated.
A month after surgery, the initial programming of the device is completed and multiple sessions help fine-tune the stimulus level of the implant. Patients also see a speech-language pathologist for ongoing therapy.
Depending upon the age at implantation, individual communication skills and the commitment from the family, most children with implants become orally conversant and benefit greatly from the surgery and treatment plan.