In a previous post I put together a list of lots of different questions you can ask about receiving a cochlear implant, and since then I’ve been thinking about what information is important to people thinking about getting a cochlear implant (or those that have just received one). One of the places where I find people get confused is with all the specialized terms that hearing professionals use in their work. So, to make it easier for you to navigate your hearing journey, I thought it would be nice to put together a brief glossary of terms about hearing and cochlear implants.
Types of Hearing Loss
- SNHL = sensorineural hearing loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is a kind of hearing loss caused by a problem in the inner ear or hearing nerve.
- MCHL = mixed and/or conductive hearing loss
Mixed and/or conductive hearing losses are hearing losses caused by a problem in the outer ear, and/or middle ear. For example, a middle-ear infection can partially block sound waves from getting to the cochlea.
- HFHL = high-frequency hearing loss
High-frequency hearing loss is when you do not hear high pitch sounds well (like a bird chirp) but can hear some low-frequency sounds (like a bass drum). It is sometimes called “partial deafness.”
- SSD = single-sided deafness
Single-Sided Deafness is a hearing loss that happens only in one ear
If you’d like to learn more about these hearing losses, check out our blog post about the different types of hearing loss.
Cochlear Implants and Other Implants
- CI = Cochlear Implant
A cochlear implant helps to replicate the sense of hearing by stimulating the cochlea electrically. A CI system has both internal and external parts; confusingly, the term “CI” is sometimes used to refer to both of these parts, and other times just the internal part.
- MEI = Middle Ear Implant
A middle ear implant helps to amplify sound by moving the tiny bones that are inside the ear.
- BCI = Bone Conduction Implant
A bone conduction implant amplifies sounds by sending sound vibrations through the skull and straight to the cochlea.
- HI = Hearing Implant
A general term for any implantable hearing device.
- AP = Audio Processor
The audio processor is an external part of any hearing implant, and it’s what picks up the sounds from all around and sends them to the implant. Sometimes, it’s referred to as a speech processor.
- HA = hearing aid
A hearing aid is like a loudspeaker for your ear. It makes sounds louder, so that they are amplified and more easily heard.
- EA = Electrode array
The electrode array puts the “cochlea” in “cochlear implants.” It is the part of the implant that is placed inside the cochlea and delivers the electrical signals.
Commonly-Used Audiology Terms
Here are some terms that you might already know, or some that might be unfamiliar.
- MAP (or Mapping) = the program that tells your audio processor how to work.
It is made by a hearing professional, usually an audiologist, and contains the settings that customize pitch, loudness, and timing, for each individual. Other commonly used terms for this include fitting, tuning, and programming.
- First fitting
The very first time that a MAP is created. If you’d like to learn more, check out the blog post all about what happens during a first fitting. There are many other terms that mean the same thing, including “activation” and “initial stimulation.”
- MCL = Maximum Comfortable Level
The maximum comfort level is the loudest volume that you can comfortably hear sounds. It is used when making the MAP to ensure that you get the best program.
- Hearing Threshold
The hearing threshold is the lowest volume that you can hear sounds. Like the MCL, it is used when making a MAP to ensure that you can hear every sound.
- Unilateral implant= having a hearing implant in only one ear
If you have a hearing loss in one or both ears, and only one hearing implant, then you are unilaterally implanted.
- Bilateral implants = having a hearing implant in each ear
If you have a hearing implant in both ears, then you’re bilaterally implanted.
- Bimodal = using different types of hearing loss solutions in each ear
If you have a hearing implant in one ear, and use another device like a hearing aid in the other ear, then you’re hearing bimodally.
- Binaural = hearing with both ears
The only way to hear binaurally is to hear with two ears, for example if you are bilaterally implanted.
Different Names and Titles For Hearing Loss Professionals
At most cochlear implant centers there is a team of professionals with different specializations with whom you will work, and they each have different titles and responsibilities.
A professional who is trained to evaluate, diagnose, treat and manage hearing loss and balance disorders in children and adults.
- Teacher of the Deaf
A teacher with additional specialised training in teaching children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- ENT = Ear, Nose, and Throat Doctor
A medical doctor with further training in the ear, nose and throat, as well as related parts of the head and neck.
- SLT = Speech Language Therapist
A professional who evaluates and treats children and adults who have difficulty with speech or language. They also treat children and adults with swallowing disorders, and are sometimes called an SLP, or speech language pathologist.
- LSLS = Listening and Spoken Language Specialist
A professional who works with families of infants and children who are deaf or hard of hearing, and helps develop the child’s listening and spoken-language skills. LSLS Cert AVT® work one-on-one with young children and their families in intervention sessions, and LSLS Cert AVEd® work directly with children in educational settings.