Receiving a cochlear implant isn’t a solitary process. If you or a family member are considering a cochlear implant, there are lots of doctors and other medical professionals that you’ll meet along the way.
Each of these professionals has from a different background and has a different specialty. They’ll work in collaboration with each recipient, and talk with each other, to make sure that each recipient gets the best treatment—and hearing—that is possible.
Here are some of the different professionals you might meet along the way.
Just remember, each country and clinic manages their recipients’ needs in different ways, so this will be more a general guide than a specific checklist.
- Audiologist. An audiologist is the person who does pre- and post-cochlear implant assessments, counseling, educational consultation, rehabilitation, and audio processor programming.
- ENT Surgeon. ENT stands for “Ear, Nose, and Throat,” and an ENT surgeon specializes in one of these areas. For a cochlear implant recipient, the surgeon will make sure that you’re ready to receive a cochlear implant and have surgery—as well as perform the surgery itself.
- Clinical Psychologist. The clinical psychologist helps recipients and their families set expectations for what a cochlear implant can do, and provide post-implantation counseling. The psychologist may also assess the recipient’s cognitive skills as part of the assessment or post implant process.
- Speech & Language Pathologist/Therapist (SLP/T). A SLP/T assesses a recipient’s speech and language before their implantation, and then works with the parents and other professionals to maximize the implant’s effectiveness post-surgery. They’ll monitor the progress over time and act as a support contact for communication-related questions.
- Hearing Therapist. A hearing therapist usually works with older children, teenagers and adults, setting initial assessments and discussing expectations. They will also help with training and rehabilitation post-implantation.
- Teacher of the Deaf. A teacher of the deaf may work either at the cochlear implant center, or in an educational setting. Their role includes assessing how well a child cochlear implant recipient will do in the classroom as well as liaising with schools and other education programs. This often means that they’ll be available during school time and occasionally will make home visits to get to know each child in their home environment.
- Audiological Physician. An audiological physician is a physician, or medical consultant, who is also a qualified audiologist.
- Auditory-Verbal Therapist (AVT) and Auditory-Verbal Educator (AVEd). An AVT/AVEd works closely with recipients and their families to build listening and language skills. The AVT/AVEd is an audiologist, SLP/T, or Teacher of the Deaf who has completed additional training in working in the development of listening and spoken language for children with hearing loss. Sometimes their work overlaps with that of a Speech & Language Therapist.
- Implant Program Manager. The implant program manager is the main point of contact for any questions about the hospital or cochlear implant center’s program.
This post was written with help from Salma Asim.
Are you considering a cochlear implant and have a question? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll be here to help.
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