What Is A Cochlear Implant?

A cochlear implant is a small electronic device that helps those who are profoundly deaf or have severe hearing loss to interpret sounds and understand speech. They do not restore hearing, nor do they work in the same manner as hearing aids do.

The implant provides a sense of sound to a person through internal and external parts that work together to bypass damaged portions of the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve. The signals made by the implant are sent to the brain, which then interprets the sound.


How Do Cochlear Implants Work?

Cochlear implants require both surgery and intense therapy in order to be effective.

The implant itself is made up of four different parts, both external and internal:


  • A microphone to pick up sounds from the environment
  • A speech processor (computer) that creates sound signals and sends them to a transmitter
  • A transmitter worn above the ear that sends the signal to the surgically implanted internal receiver/stimulator


  • A receiver/stimulator that receives signals from the processor and converts them into electric impulses
  • An electrode array that takes the signals and sends them to the auditory nerve, stimulating it; from there the transmitted information is sent to the brain to interpret the signals into meaningful information


Who Gets Cochlear Implants?

Children (12 months and older) and adults can benefit from cochlear implants if:

  • They have moderate (understanding speech is difficult in background noise) to profound hearing loss (only some loud noises can be heard) in both ears
  • They have profound hearing loss in one ear
  • Hearing aids are found to be ineffective
  • They score 65% or less on sentence recognition tests done by a hearing professional

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Cochlear Implant Seminar

Recently, Audiology & Hearing Center of Cookeville and McMinnville hosted an educational seminar on cochlear implants. Dr. Reed Norwood, Dr. Anne-Marie Calkins and Dr. Lisa Davidson with Audiology & Hearing Center hosted the event at their Cookeville, TN location at 1711 S Jefferson Ave. This seminar was focused on assisting individuals with significant hearing loss, who do not receive adequate benefit from their current hearing aids due to the severity of their hearing loss. Currently, individuals who are looking for alternative, implantable hearing loss treatments to hearing aids must travel to Nashville or Knoxville for initial consultation, testing, surgery and follow-up care.

Cochlear Implant Seminar

The audiologists of Audiology & Hearing Center are partnering with Cochlear Corporation to provide the initial diagnostic hearing evaluations, including an extra battery of tests to determine cochlear implant (CI) candidacy and to provide follow-up care in Cookeville, TN after implantation. Potential CI candidates will be then referred to Vanderbilt to discuss the procedure with their cochlear implant surgeons. Dr. Norwood and his partners are excited to be able to provide this much needed care to the Upper Cumberland Region to better serve those individuals in our communities that need extra hearing care support.

Dr. Reed Norwood of Audiology & Hearing Center spoke to the group about hearing loss and how cochlear implants work. Dr. Matthew O’Malley, an otolaryngologist with Vanderbilt, discussed current cochlear implant procedures and surgery and representatives from Cochlear Corporation discussed different implant devices available. Several cochlear implant recipients and users were on-hand to review their experiences with the audience.

This was the first cochlear implant educational seminar hosted at Audiology & Hearing Center of Cookeville and McMinnville. Due to the success and need for this type of care locally, there are plans to host similar seminars in the future. The doctors of audiology at Audiology & Hearing Center, Cookeville – McMinnville have selected to become part of the Cochlear Provider Network to be the first audiology practice in the Upper Cumberland Region to bring these services to the communities served. The Cochlear Provider Network assists individuals with severe hearing loss get connected with practices that provide cochlear implant services and helps people with hearing loss achieve optimal outcomes.

For more information contact Audiology & Hearing Center of Cookeville and McMinnville today calling (888) 379-8978.