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If your child has qualified for cochlear implants as the next step on their hearing loss journey, you may have a lot of questions and different emotions as you prepare. This is also a time for hope and celebration, because once their device is activated, there is a whole world of listening and language for your little one.
There’s a lot of information to consider at this stage of the journey and you may be asked to decide which CI brand to choose. It’s a big decision, but rest assured you won’t be making it alone. You’ll work with your professional team — which may include your pediatric/CI audiologist and/or CI surgeon — to select the device that’s best for your child. As you prepare to make a selection, this article will help you understand the options available, what questions you can ask your team, and other factors to consider when deciding which cochlear company you want for your child.
Let’s talk about the options.
There are three different cochlear implant (CI) companies with FDA-approved cochlear implants in the U.S.
There are several factors families take into consideration when deciding which cochlear implant manufacturer to go with. It’s an important decision since you will be interacting and communicating with the device manufacturer for a very long time, including for repairs, replacements, and upgrades.
Wondering where to even start? Use the information below as a starting point to talk to your team.
1. Ask your team about their experience with each company. One of the most important factors is the experience of your professional team. Talk to your surgeon and pediatric/CI audiologist to find out if they recommend a specific cochlear implant manufacturer. They may be more comfortable programming a certain company, and programming plays an important role in your child’s outcome.
2. Research each company. Look for information about the different cochlear implant manufacturers and their products. You can talk with your pediatric/CI audiologist and reach out to the companies directly. Think about the following items to start your research:
Processor Features: Ask your audiologist to review the pediatric-friendly aspects of each device, and to explain why these features are important. Examples include type of device, waterproof capability, remote microphone options, and accessories.
Customer Service: You’ll be working directly with the manufacturer for parts and repairs. Ask your pediatric/CI audiologist for more information about the company’s customer service. You can also call or email each manufacturer to ask.
Reliability: You also may want to review the reliability data (you can usually find it on each company’s website). Although internal processor issues are rare, get familiar with what’s been reported by reviewing data for each company.
3. Consider what your child needs.Your child may have specific needs based on their ear anatomy that requires a certain device or company. If your child has malformation in their cochlea, middle ear, or external outer ear, there may be a device that’s most appropriate for their needs. The best way to find out? Talk to your team about their recommendations.
4. Talk with families about their experiences.You’re not alone on this journey. Other families have been right where you are and can offer valuable insights. Ask about their experience to learn which manufacturer they chose and why. Keep in mind some families may have decided on a particular device for different reasons than you have.
How can you connect with families? Hearing First has two communities that are great places to ask others to share.
We know that this is a big decision. Whichever manufacturer you choose, take comfort in knowing you made an informed choice for your child and their future.
The American Cochlear Implant Alliance (ACIA) has additional resources about cochlear implants on their Parents page, including:
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Remember, you’re not alone on this journey. Thousands of parents have been in your shoes. Find other parents who can share from experience, offer encouragement, and help your family reach your LSL goals.
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