We Program Cochlear Implants for Patients with Profound Hearing Loss
Children and adults who gain little or no benefit from hearing aids often require a cochlear implant to facilitate or restore hearing capacity. A cochlear implant (CI) is a surgically implanted neuroprosthetic device used to produce a sense of sound to patients with profound sensorineural hearing loss.
In contrast to a hearing aid, which amplifies sound within the hearing pathway, cochlear implants bypass the damaged inner ear, transmitting sound signals using direct electrical stimulation of the auditory nerve.
The auditory nerve carries these signals to the brain for processing. A cochlear implant will not restore normal hearing, but it does provide patients with a functional rendering of sounds and speech to help facilitate some hearing and understanding.
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Cochlear Implant MAPping
In order for a cochlear implant to function as designed, an audiologist must program it to meet the patient’s specific needs. MAPping is the term applied to the programming process. Initial MAPping includes setting up and turning on the unit after the surgical procedure. Essentially, MAPping helps to optimize the sound signals to the auditory nerve by adjusting the input to the electrodes on the implanted array.
Although different terminology, strategies, and capacities exist among the three FDA-approved models of implants, the process typically includes connection of the unit’s processor to the audiologist’s computer. Adjustments to thresholds (T-levels) to establish softest sound levels and comfortable level of loudness (C-levels) allow the patient to get the most out of the implant. Additional adjustments to stimulation rate or programming strategies can also be a part of the process.
After initial MAPping, follow-up MAPping is necessary to optimize the performance of the implant. These follow-up appointments are critical to initial stimulation and occur with greater frequency in the early stages after implanting but tend to stabilize over time and MAPping appointments become less frequent.
The Hearing Center of Medical Center Clinic performs initial and follow-up MAPping on CI devices for all three approved cochlear implant models manufactured by Cochlear Americas, Advanced Bionics, and Med-El.
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Whether you’re concerned about your hearing or a loved one’s hearing, it’s often the small questions and challenges that prevent us from making critical decisions to change.
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