Cochlear Implants - Testimonials from the 1990's

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Testimonial 1

Report by Cathy Brandt from 9 Dec 1993:

Questions which Cathy tries to answer in the following report:

  • How effective are cochlear implants? I have heard that results can be quite varied.
  • Can a person understand speech with one?
  • Is the technology advancing quickly?

It varies greatly from child to child. There are several factors that must be taken into consideration. I work with children that use them quite effectively and others who don't use them to the fullest potential at all. The greatest determiner is the child's desire to use it and his own motivation and efforts.

Yes, some children's hearing is brought up within the Speech Reception Threshold and can detect speech. There are still levels of achievement within that. One can detect speech, distinguish it from other sounds, distinguish certain speech sounds from other speech sounds and finally comprehend speech. I have children who can not only detect but discriminate speech sounds completely auditorally with their implants. For connected language or discourse they rely heavily on speechreading cues as well, though. I have not worked with any children as of yet who can completely comprehend connected discourse purely auditorally. Certain phrases? Yes. But, completely new material or carry on a conversation - no.

Being more the educator and not the technician I can't comment at length on the advancement of technology. I can tell you that they started with one or two channel devices and now are implanting 22 channel devices which provide much more stimulus (sound) and information.

To my knowledge the equipment (size, components) are basically the same. But, I know it will rapidly change. I'm just not educated enough to tell you the specifics.

Testimonial 2

Report by Bill Peter from 4 Jan 1994:

I got an American Christmas card's the kind with the xeroxed message of what the sender and the family did for the past year. This one in particular caught my eye because it described a 3-year old implanted child who is (was?) profoundly deaf.

Lest anyone get the wrong idea, I am not posting this to trumpet the benefits of cochlear implants (my own son isn't going to get one yet, at least not until the new one comes out in 1994, but we shall see).

********************** cut here **************************************
We've had a busy year.  On January 8, Andrew had surgery for the
Cochlear Implant.  On February 1st he had the device hooked up.
After only a couple of weeks, he heard the phone ring and pointed
to his ear--it was unbelievable, but it became very consistent.
Then he recognized other sounds, starting responding to his name,
even when he's in the backyard.  His favorite sound became airplanes
and helicopters...he could hear even the most distant ones...Andrew
also has been receiving lots of therapy the last year...and sees his
oral speech teacher once a week.  His vocabulary is really multiplying,
over 250 words.  In November he started recognizing and naming
four colors--red, yellow, blue, and white.  He also can differentiate
sounds--such as a whistle, drum, and a tambourine, or a guitar,
cow, bird, and fire engines.  He utters two and three word sentences.
His growth is very miraculous to us.

Testimonial 3

Report by Bill Peter from 12 Dec 1993:

[Second-hand report]

Cochlear implants are beginning to make a splash in Europe.

Two weeks ago on the French Canale 5 they had a special segment on an implanted French mother [a positive portrayal].

Last night on the British news station, Sky-one, they had a segment on the wishes of British parents to have cochlear implants for children paid for by the government. [The operation costs 30,000 pounds in the UK].

The British Deaf Association [of course] was against this, and instead said the money should go for interpreters for themselves!
[Talking about stealing candy from babies!]

LUCKILY, on the show they interviewed Lord Ashley from Parliament, a "crusader" for deaf causes--and the guy was HIMSELF sproting a cochlear implant! He said that it was a marvelous operation, and he is all for the government paying for the operation.

He said that he does not hear perfectly with the implant, that the interviewer's voice was distorted from her usual "beautiful" voice, but with lipreading it allows him to understand everything that is being said to him.

Testimonial 4

Report by JeraldC954 from 5 Jan 1995:


when I wrote that piece a while back, I was referring to my own first hand observations and hands on contact with CI children. Let me help you understand where I was coming from

Kid #1 - lost hearing due to viral infections at age four. totally deaf, child not in a stable family situtation, parents strongly felt that the CI would help them "control" behavior and be able to hear "something" . I initially met the child the day before surgery and saw the child a year later during a classroom observation tour, and saw that the child was complaining that CI unit was worthless.....

Kid #2 - born deaf, had some residual hearing, CI implanted at six years, two years of intesntive services, speech and auditory. Communication profile remained unchanged. Child no longers wears the unit.

Kid #3 deaf at age two, CI at four years, no improvement in speech or receptive hearing after 15 months of services.....

Kid #4 Deaf....when? Had CI, three years ago, recently stopped intentsive services and parents accepted ASL as child's primary langague, Appears to only have gotten speechreading skills out of it!

A lot of money, alot of time and what was the result? One child actually told me the parents were very embarassed that they had the CI done! Child had the hair cut very short, and the scar was visable!

CI may may (thats is a v e r y b i g m a y) help less than .1 percent of the deaf children. I now tell parents, basically in a blunt way, get a life, start communicating with your child, make your child whole as a person, not something that they can mold, shape, form and create. It is always a disaster. CI operations involve drilling and thus damaging the inner ear, what if ten years from now there is something better and less evasive? causes no damage?

CI is a fancy hearing aid. period. I get v e r y upset because I have not yet seen one CI child ( have met/observed about 10 in various classrooms) that appears to really benefit from the implant. Too many hours taken away from academics to focus on "habilitation" Habilitation of what?????????????????? as a result they are worst off than they were before they had surgery. (based on observations of 6 kids)

I hope this helps you in your discussions with parents. I sometimes think parents hope their guilt will be lessoned or evaporated when the child comes out of surgery. IT is for the parents more than it is for the child....

I could go on and on... CI in children upsets me greatly. Let me know what you think, and how it helps you... perhaps you can give me some additional insight I could use as ammunition with parents.


Last update date: 
2006 Jan 28