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Taking care of cochlear implants

Last reviewed: 25 June 2024

It’s important to keep cochlear implants in good working order so your child has the best access to communication, language and learning. You’ll need to check your child’s cochlear implants regularly to make sure they’re working.

Here’s how to maintain cochlear implants, fix common problems, and get help if you need it.

Daily check

A daily check and listening test can help you find any faults in your child’s cochlear implants, many of which can be easily fixed.

Your child’s implant team will show you how to check that the external part of your child’s cochlear implants – the speech processor and transmitter coil – are working. They’ll give you a set of replacement coils that you can change yourself at home. When you use your replacement parts, let the implant team know so that they can give you new spares. They’ll probably ask you to send the faulty part back, so don’t throw it away unless you’ve been told to do so.

If you find a problem when doing your daily checks, contact the cochlear implant centre for advice.

Check switches and controls

Make sure the settings are the same as those given by your cochlear implant centre – if not, reset them or take the system back to the centre.

Check batteries and battery contacts

  • Make sure you’re using the type of battery suggested by your child’s cochlear implant centre.
  • Make sure the batteries are fitted correctly.
  • Check battery power levels. If your child’s speech processors have button batteries, there may be a battery tester device available so you can check the levels. Rechargeable batteries should be recharged overnight or when not in use, and these may have an indicator light on the processor to show if the battery is low or dead, but this will vary between different implant models and manufacturers.
  • Check that the battery contacts are clean and not rusty. If they are damaged, contact the cochlear implant centre.

Find out more about batteries and battery safety.

Check leads

  • Check that there are no obvious signs of wear and tear or damage. Replace the leads if you’re not sure. Your cochlear implant centre should have shown you how to replace the leads. If you don't know or can't remember, check the manufacturer's website for advice. Most manufacturers produce videos demonstrating how to replace the cable.
  • Check the connections between the speech processor and the transmitter coil. If the connection is loose, contact the cochlear implant centre.

Listening check

You can do a listening check using either a signal check device or listening earphones, depending on the cochlear implant your child has. Your child’s implant team will show you how to do a listening check.

Some types of listening earphones can also let you judge the quality of the sound. Check that the sound is at a comfortable level and that the sound quality is clear and without any crackles. If not, contact your child’s implant centre.

The speech processor may have its own self-check function. Make sure that you know about this and what to do if it finds a fault.


Each cochlear implant manufacturer has their own advice on how to clean your child’s speech processor. For light dirt or soiling, most will recommend simply wiping with a dry cloth.

Check with your implant team or the cochlear implant manufacturer for advice on how to clean your child’s speech processor.

If the speech processor gets wet

Most cochlear implant speech processors come with a ‘dry box’, which removes light moisture from your child’s speech processor. This can include sweat and condensation. Speech processors should be put in the dry box overnight.

Dry boxes can be electronic or non-electronic. Non-electronic dry boxes have pellets or tabs which remove moisture from the processor.

Be sure to use the dry box that comes with your child’s cochlear implant as other brands may not be suitable.

If your child’s speech processor becomes fully submerged in water, contact your cochlear implant centre for advice.


Batteries for cochlear implant speech processors need to be changed regularly, between once a day and once a week. Battery life can vary depending on the programmes that your child uses.

Batteries from speech processors are extremely dangerous if swallowed. If you think your child may have swallowed a battery or inserted it into their ear or nose, take them to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department. Take along a packet of batteries so that the doctors know exactly what they’re dealing with.

Find out more about batteries and battery safety.

Lost or damaged cochlear implants

NHS cochlear implants

The NHS provides speech processors on a permanent loan basis, and they always remain the property of the NHS rather than the wearer.

You’re expected to take reasonable care of your child’s speech processors. The implant team will give you accessories and advice to make sure that speech processors can be worn securely without fear of them falling off and being lost.

Your implant team will tell you what to do if your child’s speech processors are lost or broken, or if their internal implant gets damaged.

The NHS is legally allowed to charge for the loss or damage of equipment in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, most services don’t charge for the loss of children’s speech processors since it’s difficult to prove that loss or damage was due to negligence (the fault of the parent or child). If they do charge, they usually charge around £100 to £150 for each processor, and they can’t charge families in receipt of certain welfare benefits. This is a very small fraction of what the speech processor really costs to replace. Speech processors cost the NHS over £5,000 each, so it’s very important that you try your best to keep them safe.

Some modern cochlear implants are compatible with a smartphone app, which you can use to track the speech processors using GPS. This can be especially useful if your child has a habit of removing their processors while out and about, as you can then use the app to find them. The cochlear implant service will tell you if your child’s cochlear implants connect to an app and can help you download the app to your smartphone.

Private cochlear implants

Private cochlear implants are your property, and you’re responsible for the full cost of any repair or replacement. If you have them insured, you’ll need to contact your insurance company for details of how to claim on your insurance policy.

Insuring cochlear implants

NHS speech processors can’t be insured as they’re the property of the NHS. However, some parents choose to insure against the risk of being charged for any loss. Most household insurance will cover this. Let the insurance company know and list the speech processors as a named item on the policy.

When travelling abroad, you can buy travel insurance to cover the speech processor and external parts of the implant.

Most cochlear implant manufacturers offer a holiday loan kit which includes spare processors in case they get damaged or lost while you’re away. Find out more about travelling with technology.

Chloe Gets Cochlear Implants

For a fun and child-friendly way to explain cochlear implants to your child, check out our free comic, Chloe Gets Cochlear Implants.