A cochlear implant is a neuroprosthetic device surgically implanted into a person’s ear to remedy hearing loss. This implant assists those with profound and moderate hearing loss to have a better sense of sound. While cochlear implants can be implanted in both ears, sometimes that may not be an option.
Sometimes insurance restrictions and personal preferences can result in just one implant being installed. Unfortunately, the non-implant ear will need some other form of assistance to help with hearing loss. This is why a traditional hearing aid is recommended for patients with unilateral cochlear implants.
Better Speech Understanding
Many studies have been analyzing the effects of unilateral cochlear implants and their pairing with traditional hearing aids. The studies have shown that speech recognition is better in patients who also have the assistance of a hearing device in their non-implant ear. Single-word speech recognition was enhanced by between 15 and 20 percent in patients. When background noise was active, sentence recognition increased between 20 and 30 percent in patients with a hearing aid.
Enhanced Binaural Hearing
Pairing the cochlear implant with a hearing aid has allowed individuals to feel more balanced in their hearing. When two ears are being used, it’s referred to as binaural hearing. When patients can receive sound in both ears, it allows them to better locate the sound source. This is because they can measure the difference in the sound’s time of arrival between both ears.
Stimulated Auditory Pathways
We’ve all commonly heard the phrase, “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.” This holds true for the auditory system. Having a cochlear implant with a hearing aid on the non-implanted ear can allow the non-implanted ear’s auditory components to deteriorate. When a patient uses a hearing aid in the non-implanted ear, it stimulates the auditory pathways. This keeps the hearing components in the non-implanted ear in good condition.
Improved Sound Quality
When patients first use a cochlear implant without a traditional hearing aid, many find that the sounds they hear are unnatural. They have issues with pitch and fine-grained spectral. In these cases of hearing loss, audiological professionals have recommended using a hearing device in the non-implanted ear. This has allowed the patients to enjoy more natural, fuller, and richer sounds. A study performed on individuals with cochlear implants showed that melody recognition was better when they used a hearing aid in the non-implant ear.
Call Us Today
While an implant can be a great investment for your hearing, it may not be highly effective on its own. By pairing a cochlear implant with a traditional hearing aid in the non-implant ear, one can enjoy all the benefits that we went over above. If you have a cochlear implant and are convinced that a hearing aid may be just the assistance you need to experience even better hearing, then it’s time to contact us. Our hearing care specialists can assess your hearing needs and help you pick out the right hearing device for you.