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Following surgical implantation of the cochlear implant, the patient will return to the clinic within 1 week for removal of the external white bandage. At this time, the patient will be seen by the implant physician to evaluate how the patient is healing and to determine the successive appointment for initial activation. This is the second appointment where the patient will receive the external equipment associated with the implant and begin to engage in the hearing process.

The patient will be seen approximately 6-8 times (clinical visits to UNC Health Care) for treatment and programming associated with the implant during the first year of implantation. Following the first year of stimulation, it is recommended, the patient return for annual follow-up visits for maintenance of equipment and evaluation of performance.

At each clinical visit, the patient will undergo speech perception testing to evaluate his/her progress and benefit in hearing with the implant. Additionally, the patient will be “mapped,” meaning that the external equipment will be adjusted to the patient’s needs and auditory perceptions. Each clinical session is approximately 2 hours in length based on the necessary procedures that must be achieved. Our goal is to provide each and every patient with quality care as well as maximum benefit in hearing with his/her cochlear implant.

At initial activation, the patient may experience a number of sensations and sounds, ranging from “electrical beeps” to recognition of voices and spoken words and speech. All of these reports and experiences are normal and will represent a transition over time to a more improved and comfortable listening signal to the patient. The entire implant procedure is a process in evolution for each patient. Both time and patience make all the difference in hearing well with the implant! It usually takes a patient 6-12 months of consistent use and stimulation with the implant before achieving the maximum level of benefit and success.

Every patient is unique and different, and some patients may need longer than 6 months of use and training before achieving full benefit. With consecutive mapping sessions and clinical visits as well as commitment to the implant process, the patient will begin to notice significant improvements in hearing through the implant, beginning with the date of initial activation.

Are you ready to join us at the UNC Adult Cochlear Implant Program? If you would like to make an appointment, please call 984-974-2599 to schedule a comprehensive cochlear implant evaluation.