Adults and children (12 months of age and older), with severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss, may be candidates for a cochlear implant. Typically, candidates will have been fitted with hearing aids but receive minimal benefit. Benefit with hearing aids is determined by standard diagnostic tests administered by audiologists as well as subjective patient reports and parent/teacher/therapist questionnaires, which measure a child's response to sound and development of speech with hearing aids.
A team approach is most often taken to determine candidacy for a cochlear implant. A surgeon rules out medical contraindications with physical examination, MRI or CT scans and medical review of records. An audiologist evaluates the degree of hearing loss, functional benefit with hearing aids and the potential benefit to be gained from a cochlear implant. A speech-language pathologist may evaluate communication skills. A psychologist may assess motivation and expectations.