How To Choose a Cochlear Implant

How to Choose a Cochlear Implant | Determine What Meets Your Needs

By Eric Sherman

Alright, decision time. You or your family member has just qualified for a cochlear implant, Now, your audiologist hands you several brochures of the available cochlear implant manufacturers and asks you to choose which one you want. Individuals and families will spend weeks agonizing over this decision.

The good news is that all three cochlear implant manufacturers make a good device that will provide you access to sound. Unfortunately, you can’t test different brands like you can with hearing aids, so you will have to do some research. This process can be confusing and cause more anxiety about which cochlear implant brand to choose.

First, you should know that not all cochlear implant devices are offered at every implant center, hospital, or clinic. Depending on the country, insurance, and the doctor, you may have a limited choice.  Some government run health programs, as well as insurance companies, may have only negotiated to offer one or two different cochlear implant brands at your center.  Then, you have doctors who have a surgical preference over which device they will implant, as well as an audiologist who prefers working with one cochlear implant processor over another.  These factors can limit or dictate which cochlear implant you can choose.

The internet can be a good source of information. website has compiled the most up to date, accurate, and complete side by side comparison of each available cochlear implant device on the market.  Be careful about Facebook groups and blog stories.  This is where you can find the most biased and in some cases incorrect information about cochlear implants.

Most people will speak highly of their cochlear implant because they are all good devices.  Some people will say they wished their device had similar features to another manufacturer’s device.  Watch out for those who disparage one brand over another.  You don’t know their motives or the full extent of the story behind their negative experience. This is how misinformation gets propagated. If you search hard enough, you will find that each of the three manufacturers’ has had a recall at some point in their history.  Not to mention, one manufacture being fined for kickbacks to doctors and clinics. 

Here are some tips to help you figure how to choose the right cochlear implant for you or your family member.

1.     Develop a list of criteria most important to you, (i.e. Technology, upgrade capabilities, wearing configurations, accessories, reliability, warranty, etc.). Download the side by side comparison chart from

2.     Consider how each cochlear implant manufacturers’ device meets your lifestyle needs. (i.e. Wearing configuration and comfort during physical or sports activities, programs for different listening environments, best for hearing music, swimming or for work, etc.).

3.     Call each manufacturer and ask questions about their product. Get a feel for their customer service.  Find out delivery times for replacement parts to your location. If you’re not treated well as a candidate, think about how it may be as a customer.

4.     See what each manufacturer offers in the way of support for pre and post implantation. Do they have materials for rehabilitation, support groups, or networks of individuals that can help you along your hearing journey (i.e. mentors)?

5.     If your cochlear implant center or doctor is not offering you a choice between all three cochlear implant manufacturers, find out why. If the reason is medical related, you may want to seek or consider a second opinion. If the reasons are anything other than medical, you have to determine what is important to you. Do you stay with your doctor or implant center or do go to another facility that offers you the cochlear implant brand you prefer.

6.     Make sure the audiologist who will be mapping the processors is competent in working with the device you choose.  Like most individuals, audiologists will gravitate toward devices (i.e. software and equipment) they are most comfortable and familiar working with. We travel almost 300 miles to see our audiologist for mapping sessions. Other families will go as far as visiting other countries to see their audiologist.

Selecting a cochlear implant is a lifelong decision, so you need to do your homework and make a decision based on your own criteria and lifestyle needs. Eliminating a brand because of third-party recommendations or innuendo doesn’t do you any good if that brand has features that benefit you or your family member. These wonderful devices will continue to evolve and only get better over time. Good luck on your decision and hearing journey.

You may find this story helpful too    Choosing a  Cochlear Implant, Is Your  Provider Giving You All the Info?


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