Cochlear Implant Program | Your Visit

Determining if a cochlear implant is right for your child is a process that includes appointments and evaluations with various members of the Boston Children’s Cochlear Implant Program team. If your child is approved for implantation, family members will be asked to attend programming sessions, maintain equipment and support their child and their progress during all waking hours.

Cochlear implant evaluation

Cochlear Implant Program specialists evaluate children with:

  • severe or profound sensorineural hearing loss (loss of function within the inner ear) in both ears
  • sloping hearing loss (high-frequency hearing loss) with limited benefit from hearing aids
  • auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder (auditory dys-synchrony)

Children frequently require multiple evaluations and meet with a number of specialists during the evaluation process, often requiring several visits. We will keep you informed of your child's potential candidacy along the way. It is our job to determine, from all possible perspectives, whether a cochlear implant is truly the best option for your child.

Over the course of the candidacy process, your child will meet with many members of our cochlear implant team, including:

  • An audiologist: The audiologist provides hearing testing and an information session for the parents, family members and caregivers to learn more about cochlear implants and our program. The audiologist, along with our program coordinator, will be your family's main contact with our program.
  • An otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor): The otolaryngologist assesses your child from a medical perspective to ensure that a cochlear implant is an appropriate option. This may involve ordering specialized tests, such as a CT scan or MRI, or blood work, to assess your child's anatomy and possibly the cause of the hearing loss. The otolaryngologist will also invite you to meet with the surgeon who would perform the cochlear implant surgery. Together they will share additional information regarding what to expect during and after surgery.
  • A psychologist: The psychologist assesses your child's cognitive function and general development. The psychologist helps ensure there is adequate family support and commitment and that your child has access to an appropriate educational program. For older children, the psychologist can also help prepare the child for what to expect during surgery.
  • A speech-language pathologist (SLP): The SLP assesses your child's speech and language development. This may include sign or spoken language, as our SLPs are fluent in sign language. The SLP will also assess your family's access to aural rehabilitation (listening therapy) services, which are required following implantation. The SLP will also help your family secure services for your child when needed. In addition, they are able to provide direct aural rehabilitation services when therapy cannot be established closer to home.

Other Boston Children’s specialists including developmental pediatrics, occupational therapy, genetics, ophthalmology and neurology, are available as needed for consultation.

What happens after the evaluation process?

After your child has completed all necessary evaluations and examinations, the team discusses their findings with each other, with the family and with your child's primary care pediatrician and school when appropriate. If it is determined that a cochlear implant is an appropriate option for your child, and your family would like to proceed with implantation, our program coordinator will work with your family to set up a surgery date.