Cochlear Implant Mapping
Cochlear implants are electronic devices that are surgically implanted in the inner ear, helping people with severe to profound hearing loss hear sounds.
The external device (or sound processor) picks up sounds and turns them into electrical signals. These signals are sent through the cochlear implant's microphone and then wirelessly transmitted to the internal device, stimulating the auditory nerve. This allows your brain to process sound as speech.
For a cochlear implant system to work correctly, it must be programmed to align with how you hear best. This process is called mapping and can only be carried out by experienced hearing professionals who have completed specialized training on the specific cochlear implant system recommended for you.
Who would benefit from a cochlear implant?
Implants are an option for people with severe hearing loss that cannot be improved by any other method, such as hearing aids or cochlear implants turned off (called "inactive"). Cochlear implants replace the function of damaged hair cells in the inner ear that process sound vibrations into electrical signals sent to the brain.
There are two types of cochlear implants: one is inserted in your head behind your ear; another is worn behind your ear but under the skin like a hearing aid.
What is involved in Cochlear Implant Mapping?
Cochlear implants can be programmed individually for each user; however, the device needs to be mapped. This is an adjustment of the external and internal devices, so they fit each individual's needs.
MAPs are programs that help the person with a cochlear implant get the best sound quality by adjusting the input to the electrodes on the array implanted in the cochlea.
To start the ‘MAPping’ process, the cochlear implant processor is first connected to our computer.
The softest sounds that users can hear are called T-Levels or Thresholds. C-Levels, also called M-Levels, are comfortable levels of volume that the user can handle. We set the T- and C- levels for each electrode by giving the user a series of "beeps" and observing how you react to them.
We may also change the MAP's stimulation rate or programming strategy. These are the computer algorithms and programs that turn acoustic sound (what people with normal hearing hear) into the right combination of electrode stimulations to give you the same feeling of sound.
No two mappings are the same.
One of the most important things to understand about mapping is that no two mappings are the same.
- While each mapping takes time and effort, they are not one-time processes. As you learn to use your implant better, you will likely have to re-map again to continue improving your hearing and understanding of sounds around you.
- Mapping varies significantly between patients and devices because every brain is different. For example, some people may have an easier time hearing specific frequencies than others.
- The amount of time required for mapping also varies from patient to patient, depending on how quickly their brain learns how best to interpret the signals coming into their ears through their cochlear implants.
We will work with you to adjust your sound processor and fine-tune it over time to ensure that you receive the most benefit from your implant. If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us any time!