Optimizing Results with a Cochlear Implant: Tips for Adults: The Hearing Journal

Cochlear implants (CIs) work differently from a hearing aid by bringing sound to the brain in new ways, allowing recipients to hear speech and environmental sounds more clearly than they could hear with hearing aids. Assistance may be required to obtain meaningful listening to the new signal. By optimizing programming and developing listening skills, a recipient can maximize their results.


Work closely with your audiologist to discuss programming solutions for your CI. An open and honest relationship helps the audiologist fine-tune the program (or map) to improve results by improving listening in noise, in meetings, or in other situations. The audiologist may suggest assistive listening devices to promote better hearing at home, at work, and in the community, including devices that connect the CI to sound sources such as a computer or a computer. tablet, television, audio system in theaters or other places, or the telephone. CI manufacturers have a dedicated staff to help recipients get the most out of their CI and devices.


Appropriate programming optimizes listening, but some challenges benefit from strengthening listening skills. Hearing rehabilitation is a listening and communication therapy that can help and speed up the process. Hearing rehabilitation is needed, similar to physical therapy after knee surgery. A professional, often an audiologist or speech-language pathologist, can help determine the strengths and challenges of listening and guide a recipient’s practice plan by identifying how and what to practice. HF centers can provide information on accessing hearing rehabilitation services. Services are often covered by health insurance and can be provided in person or through telehealth.


Common listening situations that are difficult for many people with HF can improve with practice. In addition to wearing the CI whenever you are awake and having daily conversations with others, there are tips and exercises for developing listening skills during the first periods after activating the CI.


  • Characterize words spoken by a speaker as long or short (one or three syllable words; two or three syllables).
  • Listen to words in a category and say which word is heard (colors, pets, pizza toppings).
  • Watch videos or TV with closed captions, read and listen at the same time.
  • Repeat a sentence or paragraph from a book or magazine read by a listening partner.
  • As you improve, make it harder (listen without captions).


  • Improve the listening environment by getting closer to the most important speaker, turning off additional noise sources when possible, and using CI settings and accessories that help bring the speaker’s voice into the room. THIS.
  • Repeat the conversation listening exercises and add noise (music, TV) in the background, increasing the volume to increase the challenge.


  • Listen to several genres of music that you love. Music with fewer instruments and a strong beat may sound the best.
  • Listen to individual instruments first (search the internet for instrumental solos). Focus on instruments found in favorite musical genres (for example, rock music has a guitar, bass guitar, drums, and keyboard).
  • Read the lyrics while listening to the song.
  • If possible, choose music that you may be familiar with before your hearing declined.


  • Explore various components of wiretapping that can help make a phone call through an IC, including processor settings, connecting to the phone (via telecoil or Bluetooth), and selecting a well-functioning phone.
  • Try a louder (or softer) program for the phone.
  • Practice in a “safe” environment with someone who is easy to understand and speaks a little slower than usual.
  • Be aware that some speakers may still be difficult to understand (i.e. those whose speech is heavily accented).

For more tips and exercises, visit https://www.acialliance.org/page/AdultRehab.

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