Whether you’re getting a CI or have been enjoying your journey with a CI so far, it can be helpful to know some of the different professionals and people you may come across. We explain what they can do for you in your hearing journey.
This is a very important group of professionals who you’ll get to know pretty well along your hearing journey. Each of these people will be working closely with you or your child in order to get the very most out of the hearing implant, through discussing possible outcomes and assessing every recipient as an individual. The people in a CI team will vary depending on the processes in your country, however typically a CI team will include: an audiologist, surgeon, hearing therapist, counselor/social worker, speech pathologist or teacher of the deaf (or both), and psychologist.
So, let’s break down a typical CI Team:
An audiologist is the person who does pre and post CI hearing assessments, counseling, educational consultation and sometimes rehabilitation. They do the first fitting of your hearing implant, and program your audio processor to make sure the settings are right for you. This may be the first specialist you meet when treating your hearing loss.
An Ear Nose and Throat (or ENT) surgeon specializes in these areas of the body. They assess you to make sure that you’re fit for your CI surgery, conduct studies to check on the status of your inner ear, and they perform the implant surgery themselves. Together with your audiologist, the ENT surgeon will talk you through your CI options before the surgery, and what they mean for you. A speech therapist or deaf educator may also be involved in this process.
Learning to hear for the first time, or returning to hearing, can be a time filled with anticipation and emotional highs and lows. It can take some time to adapt to the physical, emotional and social changes that come with getting an implant. Whether it’s learning how to handle stress in noisy social situations, building up your confidence when meeting new people, or working on your self-identity—a psychologist can help you handle everyday situations and get the most out of your opportunities.
Hearing therapists usually work with older children, teens and adults, setting goals and discussing expectations for communication. They assist with auditory training and rehabilitation for communication post-implantation. Even if using hearing aids, some people may have gone years without hearing some sounds before getting an implant. Receiving your hearing implant is just the first stage of improved hearing—the brain may need help to learn how to process this new information coming through. Rehabilitation is absolutely key to getting the most from your hearing implant, and a hearing therapist will guide you in this process.
These professionals focus on supporting families, parents or the implant recipient directly. Social workers can be involved in arranging things such as transport assistance, financial assistance or home-help where needed. Counselors offer support to families and recipients to help them manage all the aspects of decision making in adjusting to life with a hearing implant.
Speech and Language Therapist (SLT)
A Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) works with people of all ages who have received a hearing implant to assess and develop speech, language and communication abilities. They may begin to work with you before you receive your cochlear implant, and will work with you to make sure you can get the most out of your listening, speech and language skills after you have received your cochlear implant. This support includes monitoring communication progress over time, liaising with your other hearing specialists, developing communication related goals with you and helping you to make positive progress with these, and answering communication related questions.
Teacher of the Deaf
A teacher of the deaf is a trained teacher who has specialized training for working with students with hearing loss. For both pre and post lingual child recipients, having a Teacher of the Deaf can help your child in school. They typically work with students in educational settings, and will work closely with the professionals within this setting to support the student in accessing the curriculum Whether or not your child has a Teacher of the Deaf, you as a parent can work together with your child’s regular teacher to best support your child in school.
Other important people:
Aside from your CI Team who you’ll be working with on a regular basis, these other people will be able to help you out on the journey before and after getting your implant:
ENT (Ear Nose Throat) Doctor/Audiological physician
This is a doctor specializing in all things to do with the ears, nose and throat. An audiological physician is both a qualified physician or medical consultant, and specialize in hearing and the hearing mechanisms of the body.
Although this isn’t an official term, many people use this when referring to an ENT doctor or an audiological physician.
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. They may liaise with you, the surgeon, and the CI team to make the process as easy as possible.
Other implant recipients
By talking with other people who have been on the implant journey themselves, you can find out some invaluable advice and tips that you simply can’t get elsewhere. We host a free, community-run, online forum called HearPeers for hearing implant recipients to share information and experiences. It’s a closed forum—meaning only members can post, and is a great place to get real and honest advice and tips from others with first-hand experience.
We at MED-EL are here for you, every day. Whether it’s a question about a new product, assistance with handling your device, or finding out more information about rehabilitation, simply contact your local MED-EL Representative or us here at MED-EL Headquarters through our social media pages like this blog.
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Confused about some “hearing terms” you’ve heard? Check out our quick list of common hearing-related terms.
Did we miss anyone influential in your journey? Let us know in the comments below!