Cochlear implant companies advertise many different features. Currently there is no evidence that suggests that one manufacturer has better outcomes than another.
None of the marketing features below significantly improve performance of one manufacturer over another.
- More electrodes are not better. CIs have 16-24 electrodes. These electrodes provide more information than patients can actually use. Most patients can only perceive about 16 “channels” of sound provided by an implant.
- Microphones placed near the entrance of the ear canal are convenient for using the telephone, but they provide no greater benefit for hearing in noise.
- One company advertises its long electrode that “covers more of the cochlea.” There is no consistent or great evidence supporting this claim in independent studies.
- Speech processing strategies convert sound to electricity. There are a variety of different speech processing strategies such as “HiRes,” “ACE,” and “Fine Structure Processing.” None have been shown to be superior to others.
As a scientist and technology innovator, Dr. Ruffin has been in the cochlear implant research field for over 15 years. He is intimately familiar with all aspects of implant technology.
To date, all cochlear implant manufacturers include the key components known to improve performance:
- Atraumatic electrodes to preserve inner ear structures
- A sufficient number of electrodes to support the full range of cochlear implant hearing
- Robust speech processing strategies
The best brand is the one that fits into your lifestyle. Some lifestyle issues are, for example, batteries and battery life, the ability to seamlessly use hearing assistive technology, to work with remote controls or smartphones, and waterproofing of the external processor for very active individuals. This is not an exhaustive list. Be sure to talk with other patients to get a better idea of the features that might be important to you.