Gimme one reason

I’m working on a long post about my CI evaluation (in short: good news, I qualify!) but in the meantime…if anyone has any insights, good or bad, to share about the CI company they went with, factors they wish they had considered or what has turned out to be the most important thing to you, and especially if you have upgraded your processor and how that went…please share them in the comments!

I’m now at the point where I have to choose a company and it’s making me crazy. 🙂

Originally I was leaning towards Advanced Bionics. I like the accessories they have, the look of the processor, and they sound like they’re doing a lot of work toward future upgrades. However, I took a peek at their website regarding upgrades to their newest processor for people who have older models. It really concerns me that people with models as recent as 2001 can’t upgrade (yet). I realize they are working on an upgrade for those folks, but the FAQ they provided made it sound like the upgrade wouldn’t really be much different sound-wise than what they already have.

I don’t want to be in that position 7 years from now.

Cochlear seems to have a really good track record for backwards compatibility. I’ve read more than once that people who received their implants 20 years ago can use the current technology. That is really important to me.

So both companies have benefits, it seems. I know that I’ve read stories from people who have implants both from AB and from Cochlear and they all seem thrilled with what they’ve got. I don’t have too much doubt that whatever company I go with, I’ll be happy with the immediate results. I’m just looking down the road to when I don’t have the newest and greatest processor on the market.

I also have to make a decision on simultaneous bilateral CI’s because that’s what they are recommending for me. I’m not sure the insurance company will approve it but I do have to go in for another visit with the doctor, so he can explain the recovery period and the differences between surgery for one ear and surgery on both at the same time. If anyone has had simultaneous bilateral surgery and would like to share their experience, I’m all ears! (pun intended)

I’ll be back with a longer post soon, but in the meantime…help! Someone make this decision for me! 🙂


About wendiwendy

I'm a real-life bionic woman.

Posted on May 9, 2008, in Cochlear Implants & Hearing Loss. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Wendy,
    My daughter is almost 6 yrs. old. She has bilateral CIs. The first one @ 13 months and the second one last August at age 5. She has the Nucleus Freedom made by Cochlear. I HIGHLY recommend them!! I too was unsure about which one to go with, but am so thankful the doctor recommended this one ONLY. The AB brand is the one with the highest incident on meningitis. The Nucleus (my daughter’s) has the lowest incidence and the highest quality of sound, also the most upgrades. Her implants are the only ones that are water resistant (not water-proof), meaning she can walk in the rain and run thru a sprinkler like other children, without fear of ruining her implants. The first upgrade came about four years after her first surgery. We upgraded and Cochlear gave us a credit toward it for trading her old one in. The Nucleus is also the only one who has the eletrodes with a contour that fits snugly against the inside of your cochlea giving you the most clear and precise sound quality. The doctor also told me that (at that time(2003)) that the MED-EL wasn’t even approved by the FDA in the US. I have heard other children speak on the videos who used the other implants and their speech isn’t as crisp as clear as my daughter’s. I hope this helps you in your decision. I’m just a parent of a great little girl who loves to hear! If there is anything else I can help with, feel free to e-mail me @
    Goodluck & God bless!

    Mother of an awesome child


  2. Curious Eyes

    you are so well-informed. I was so overwhelmed by the choices and information, I just said to my surgeon — “I really don’t care. You pick.” He selected the Cochlear Corp Nucleus Esprit 3G (this was in 2004), and I later upgraded to the Nucleus Freedom. I was happy with the Esprit but feel the Freedom was a big improvement. Not sure if that’s because the hearing levels for the Freedom were set lower than for the Esprit… comfortable listening levels do count, and that’s something the audiologist can easily change. I’m an adult CI user, in case you wondered. My goals were to hear more, and to lipread better, and both those goals were met and surpassed!


  3. I was implanted in 1994 with the AB device. There have been upgrades for us through the years. There’s a new BTE coming for us; and you know what is awesome?? AB had a lot of us get together at Town Hall meetings. AB listened and is making some awesome enhancements that we were willing to wait for. Now that is cool!!!

    Regardless to the device you chose they all work well. For me I love the AB device. I am able to hear extremely well and I’m honestly very happy



  4. Just another opinion

    STICK with your gut feeling. Your are smack dab right about AB. They aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
    If I could do it over, or if I ever go bi-lateral, I’ll go with Cochlear.

    Just another opinion (who isn’t gonna toot the horn of AB just because I have one)


  5. There is no wrong choice picking a cochlear implant. They all work essentially the same way. I just found Advanced Bionics to be more in tune with my lifestyle. Here are a couple of reasons why I chose them.

    1. The style and function of the AB’s Harmony processor is similar to my hearing aid, they both have three programs. It just felt right when I held it in my hand. It felt a little lighter then Cochlear processor. It has three programs and a T-Coil that you can have activated with any one of your programs. Cochlear has four programs but I feel the style is a little clunky for my taste. Most of us that have CI’s find one program for all situation and hardly ever have to change.

    2. It fits my active lifestyle. I needed a processor that would put up with all my hour and half long spinning session and kick boxing classes. I sweat and i have been caught in the rain and it had no effect on my CI yesterday. It is very water resistant!

    3. In 2004 Advanced Bionics issued a vendor recall. There was two companies that provided part to them but Vendor B had moisture issues which lead to the failure of the implant that did not come up in normal research. They have resolved it then by paying for re-implantation. They have not had a problem since 2004. They have stopped doing business with Vendor B and their statistics are amazingly close to 100% now. The fact that they went ahead and issued the recall themselves said a lot about the company integrity and loyalty to their clients. Too many companies would just ignore that, they did not and I respect them for it.

    In regards to what Shelly said about AB and meningitis, It wasn’t that an Advanced Bionic implant caused meningitis, it was the fact that the parents did not get the vaccine to prevent it, which is actually the pneumonia vaccine. Whereas if the parents had, then it would have never happened. That was the important part that was left out.

    4. Advanced Bionics uses rechargeable batteries. Cochlear does use both but I don’t mind relying on rechargeable batteries because as it stands now my life is surrounded by them. I didn’t feel like dealing with the insurance company for reimbursements of batteries every time I ran out. I get amazing time with my extended batteries, over two days! They have smaller batteries though for the little guys or people with little ears.

    5. Advanced Bionics is much further ahead with technology then Cochlear and Med-El are. They are constantly researching to improve on their speech strategies and one is currently being tested and I hear rave reviews already. I find the latest technology Fidelity 120 to be awesome for speech comprehension and music! Cochlear hasn’t put out a new strategy in years, although they keep saying they have on in the works.

    6. Advanced Bionic has a special earhook called a T-Mic. The T-Mic ear hook that is pointed towards the canal of the ear and it collects sound as the natural ear does. I can pick up the phone like a normal hearing person without changing to a T-Coil setting, in fact I don’t have T-Coil activated on mine. It was strange because I spent the past 24 years with T-Coil on my hearing aid and I thought I couldn’t live without it, that was until the T-Mic. This feature really helps in noise! Advanced Bionics has another microphone on the processor itself, so you have two microphones that you can have the ratio split up.

    When I went on my CI researching frenzy, I happen to come across three people that had been implanted bilaterally with one Cochlear and Advanced Bionics. Why someone would go with two different companies but I was happy that I had the comparison available to me. Naturally, I asked them which one do they hear better with? They all told me Advanced Bionics. Please keep in mind that I do not know their hearing history or whether that the AB device was implanted in a good or bad ear. I do know that they were using older models of AB processor, the Clarion-2 and Auria processor. I wear the Harmony processor that gets rave reviews from Auria users that have upgraded. They are working on making the Fidelity 120 speech strategy to users that have the older models.

    Since you have decided on the two for one deal, Valle over at did them both at the same time. When you get a chance pop over there and she will be more then happy to talk about her bilateral experience.

    I hope I helped you with the reasons why I chose Advanced Bionics. You can go on to and talk to all sorts of different people that has gotten Advanced Bionics.


  6. I had my CI evaluation a few months ago. I got tons of information from CI users of Cochlear and AB. You are welcome to read the comments posted there. I tried to make an informed decision as to which CI brand would be best for me.

    Right now I am concentrating on appealing my insurance company’s decision-they denied the request for a CI. It’s still pending…

    Here is the link to my post about my CI eval and the comments from others. 🙂 Just paste it to your browser. The information I got was very helpful. When my CI gets approved, then I will disclose my choice. Again, I know that both brands are very good.

    Hope this helps.


  7. Thank you, so much, to everyone who’s commented so far! It’s great reading opinions from everybody.

    Shari, I think the comment section freaks out over comments with links in them (they’re usually spam…boy, I delete a lot of spam comments trying to sell insurance!) I had to go in and manually approve the comments with links in them. Sorry about that! 🙂

    ~ Wendi


  8. I have met people with implants from all 3 companies. Most love their CI’s. I have also met people from all 3 companies who do NOT like their implants.

    I went with the Nucleus Freedom, because their failure rate is the lowest and I knew more people with them the other brands.

    All have different “perks”, and all the companies seem to work very hard at correcting problems, working with patients, etc.

    It can be confusing… many press their audiologists for “what would you do”. They tend to see more patients and know 1st hand the problems they are seeing. Mine would not disclose an opinion (and they actually aren’t suppose too… but some do)

    If possible, go to the two websites of the companies you are looking at and see if you can go to an area/regional information meeting. They try to have them regularly, all over the U.S.

    I also recommend some yahoo groups. There are some that are brand specific and some that are “neutral”. All can be very helpful.

    If you can get your insurance company to agree to bi-lateral, I am told that is easier than trying to get them to agree to a 2nd one later. (It likely depends on your insurance company as well).

    Best of luck! Love your blog!



  9. I have the Cochlear brand. I was implanted 15 years ago. In that time I had 4 upgrades, (backwards compatibiility) from MSP to Spectra to the 3G BTE. They are absolutely committed to backward compatibility for all their users.

    They also care for their users a lot. My first implant, being old technology, recently stopped working recently. Despite being 5 years out of the warranty period, they replaced it free of charge.

    I’m now the new owner of a Freedom and am starting to hear more than ever.

    I was just incredibly unlucky with the failure. Old technology as I was one of the first adults in NZ to be implanted. However the failure rate for those older implants is still very low – sitting at 3%. That means for every 3 that fail, there’s still 97 still going – and there are simply thousands of them.

    One thing you should also consider. Cochlear is worldwide. Really worldwide, so if you are planning to do any travel at all, to any country, if anything goes wrong you can easily call into a service centre annd get help, anywhere.

    We don’t have advanced bionics in NZ as yet.



  10. All Work but.....


    We had a horrible experience with our daughter’s cochlear implant devices. The company was challenging to deal with. The company was slow to answer my concerns. It took over six weeks for a replacement processor. It took what felt like eternity for them to finally agree that their device failed. So we decided to go with a difference company for our daughter. She is now a very happy Advanced Bionics CI user. We feel she hears better now – could be due to the insertion.

    My center said that Cochlear does not count failures like other companies count failures. While my daughter’s device stopped working Cochlear did not count it as a failure.

    Just some things to think about


  11. Hi,
    I have had my bilateral CI’s by AB for 6 years. I am an older adult and I had both ears done at the same time. I have had the ability to have my processors upgraded twice in the 6 years since my surgery. I have had exceptionally good service with AB. I skipped one upgrade and waited for the next one in part because my processors were working so well and upgrading is expensive no matter which company you go with. The main reason I upgraded at this time was due to the AB system that allows you to hear and understand music. Either company will give you an excellent opportunity to hear again.

    As a ‘simultaneous’ bilateral implantee, I would recommend that you get both ears done at the same time if you can. You are going to have a learning curve no matter what. But when you get both ears done at the same time, they learn together the same way you did orignally as a baby. You get directionality which is actually really important in every day life.

    Good luck and remember that no matter what choice you make, it will allow you to hear. And that is a good thing. 🙂


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