Raising and Educating a Deaf Child

International experts answer your questions about the choices, controversies, and decisions faced by the parents and educators of deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

Question from S.H., Massachusetts

My almost 9-month-old niece is deaf and will be getting her first cochlear implant soon. Her mother has been researching the three implant brands but has not been able to get many professional opinions to help her decide which to choose. Any thoughts?

Question from S.H., Massachusetts. Posted August 17, 2012.
Response from Linda J. Spencer - New Mexico State University

Professionals may or may not have their own “favorites” when it comes to the top-three implant brands.  Some will tell you straight out, and some do not feel comfortable making a recommendation of one implant over another. Each company has had its ups and downs with regard to factory recalls and product integrity. For some children, there are anatomical differences with regard to the cochlea (in the case of cochlear malformations or bony growth) that make one internal device preferred over another. For example, Med El offers a split electrode array that can be preferable when there is an anomaly. Certain life-styles warrant a specific choice in design feature. Cochlear Corporation and Advanced Bionics offer a “splash proof device.”  I would have a frank conversation with the surgeon and the audiologist who will be programming the device and ask them these questions:  1. Which device has been the most reliable in your experience? 2.  Which device have you had the most experience with? 3.  Which company provides the best support with regard to customer service, repairs, and warranty?  4. Are there any conditions specific to my child that makes one device better? 5. Is there a specific device that has an advantage given how young my child is?  Finally, I would ask the audiologist to give you a brief demonstration of the external device parts (how the device turns on, how the processor works with regard to volume and programs, how the headpiece looks and fits).  After you have seen and heard all this information, it is likely that one device will stand apart to you and that it will feel like the right choice.