- Cochlear implants (CI) help people with severe hearing loss hear. They are implantable computers that bypass the damaged inner ear and stimulate the hearing nerves.
- Dr. Ruffin specializes in "soft" cochlear implant surgery. This technique works to preserve remaining natural hearing. Hearing preservation CI surgery helps people hear better and improves balance and equilibrium outcomes.
- Dr. Ruffin also has cochlear implants himself. He combines his own experience with research to create resources for patients. They are updated regularly. Be sure to join our online virtual support group.
What is a cochlear implant?
Cochlear implants are surgically implanted devices that bypass the damaged structures of the inner ear to create a sense of sound. They provide a sense of hearing for those with severe and profound hearing losses. An outside processor converts sounds to a digital signal and wirelessly sends it to the internal computer. The electrode directly stimulates the hearing nerve with electricity to create a sensation of sound.
How well can I hear with a cochlear implant?
Nearly all patients perform better with their implant than they do with hearing aids. Most implantees can talk on the phone. Some implantees can hear well without additional hearing assistive technology or accommodations. Cochlear implants do not cure hearing loss. Successful users like Dr. Ruffin have learned how to navigate the hearing world despite these obstacles. He is passionate to help his patients achieve their own goals.
While results are very variable, CIs typically provide good speech perception in quiet settings. However, the poor clarity makes it difficult to hear in background noise and appreciate music. This simulation and a more in-depth simulation demonstrate the poor pitch perception provided by cochlear implants. Remember, these are simulations, CI patients do not hear the hiss, noise, and static.
Who is a candidate for cochlear implants?
A cochlear implant candidate is anyone with sensorineural hearing loss who struggles to hear with well fit hearing aids. If you cannot hear more than 60% of words or sentences with hearing aids, you may be a cochlear implant candidate. We now implant people who are deaf in only one ear. Children as young as 6 months and adults over 100 years old benefit from cochlear implants.
Why choose Dr. Ruffin for your cochlear implants?
Keep Your Remaining Hearing
9 out of 10 patients retain their natural or residual hearing immediately after receiving a cochlear implant. On average our patients experience less than 10 dB decrease in hearing.
We perform this surgical technique in every patient. Hearing preservation helps:
- Improve hearing in noise and music with a cochlear implant.
- Reduce scarring inside the cochlea. This may allow you to use future technology.
- After surgery, you are more likely to hear the same in the ear with your hearing aid when you turn your CI off.
Dr. Ruffin Has Cochlear Implants, Too
Dr. Chad Ruffin has had cochlear implants for nearly 25 years. He is the first person born with severe hearing loss to become a surgeon while using cochlear implants. Breaking this glass ceiling was challenging, and some obstacles are not obvious. Dr. Ruffin offers a pathway to ensure you not only have a successful cochlear implant surgery, but also the services and resources to help you maximize success after a cochlear implant.
His expertise is unlike any cochlear implant surgeon worldwide. He performs hearing preservation and revision surgery in adults and children. Dr. Ruffin is also a scientist and technology innovator in the field of hearing loss. He has designed new speech processing strategies for cochlear implants and also examined how people cognitively process speech and music with cochlear implants. Read more about his credentials and journey with hearing loss. You can also join our free biweekly small group meeting to ask Dr. Ruffin questions about cochlear implants and hearing loss.
“I learned more about adapting to hearing loss from Dr. Ruffin than in my entire 20 years of living with it.”
Websites Relevant to Cochlear Implants
- Major CI manufacturers: Advanced Bionics, Cochlear, and MedEl.
- Cochlear Experiences Group is a very active Facebook support group of cochlear implant patients run by CI users. Please note that the medical information quoted is sometimes inaccurate. However, it is a great group for connecting with other CI users.
- South Sound Cochlear Implant Support Group meets bimonthly in Tacoma.
- American Cochlear Implant Alliance