Helping children to reach their full potential.

How do Cochlear Implants Work?

Australian surgeon, Professor Graeme Clark successfully performed the world’s first cochlear implant surgery – marking a new era of opportunity for people with significant hearing loss.

Like most technology, the cochlear implant has rapidly transformed since its early iterations. Gone are the long cords or battery packs that users were once required to wear, now replaced with barely-visible processors and even Bluetooth streaming.

Hear and Say Head of Audiology, Julie Decker works in a team which oversees hundreds of children who use cochlear implants to hear and speak. She sat down to explain how this incredible technology works.

“Cochlear implants are suitable for people with permanent, severe to profound hearing loss,” Julie said.

“They don’t  restore someone’s natural hearing, but rather bypass the damaged hearing system through electrical stimulation of the auditory nerve, via the implant. Our brain actually takes sound from our external environment and processes the information to create meaning from it – the ear is just the pathway in.”

Hearing through a cochlear implant

Cochlear Limited 2021. This material is reproduced with the permission of Cochlear Limited.


Cochlear implant switch on

The special moment when someone’s cochlear implant is turned on by their audiologist after surgery is known as a “switch on”.

Check out the video below to watch as baby Ella’s cochlear implant is switched on – an emotional and exciting milestone when she hears sound for the first time – and only the beginning of her journey learning to hear and speak.



To find out more about Hear and Say’s cochlear implant services for people of all ages, please click here or phone 07 3850 2111.





Maia’s Story

At 9.10pm on 24 October 2013 our beautiful daughter Maia was born. 

The moment of elation was short-lived as we immediately noticed her left ear was missing. I frantically looked to the medical team around me for answers but received none.

Panic set in as we waited 4 days in hospital for an ENT to explain her condition, by which point we already had all the answers from Simone, who runs the Microtia and Atresia Program at Hear and Say.

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