Below is a list of the more Frequently Asked Questions pre and post cochlear implants kindly provided to us by Cochlear®
Cochlear Implant technology is advancing all the time, and with that, comes new, innovative, and exciting initiatives, programmes, and accessories to help with your hearing. To find out more information from Cochlear Ltd about what is available, please check out their website here.
For swimming, you will need to remove the external component when you swim, much like you would have to remove a hearing aid. The internal part of the cochlear implant is not affected by water. However, you can swim with your processor on if you use the Aqua Kit Accessory. The Aqua Kit Accessory has been designed to be used with Cochlear sound processors in any water-based activity to a depth of 4 metres. It is a single-use plastic enclosure that completely seals in your processing unit, cable and coil. It is designed for use with rechargeable batteries only. You can use the Aqua Kit Accessory in salt water, a soapy bath/shower, chlorinated pools - anything that is safe for skin contact.
For scuba divers, the internal implant is validated to withstand pressure at a depth of 25 metres (82 feet) underwater, but use of the Aqua Accessory is not recommended for Scuba diving as depths may exceed 4 metres. It is recommended that you check with your surgeon or clinician before participating in a dive, because there may be other medical conditions that you will need to consider.
For contact sports you should wear a helmet to protect your equipment. Boxing and other aggressive sports are discouraged.
The magnetic field in MRI scanners exerts force on any magnetic materials in the vicinity. This can be an issue for people with some cochlear implants, particularly those with a fixed magnet.
Cochlear Nucleus Profile™ Plus, the latest implant offering, provides access to MRI at 1.5 T and 3.0 T with magnet in place. The Profile and CI24RE implants are approved for MRI conditional with magnet surgically removed. MRI access is available for the majority of Nucleus implant recipients, but the specific conditions and access differ based on implant type.
For a comprehensive Cochlear Ltd MRI Guideline, click here.
MRI compatibility varies by country depending on regulatory approvals in each country. Please check the MRI guidance provided in your country by contacting your local cochlear representative or clinic before proceeding with an MRI scan.
'microlink' is a miniaturised Radio Aid (FM) system for hearing aid and cochlear implant users. The microlink state-of-the-art receiver attaches directly to the sound processor, enhancing speech understanding, particularly in difficult hearing situations. This tiny receiver is compatible with Phonak's range of transmitters as well as those produced by other manufacturers. For more information refer to Phonak's website. Children wishing to take advantage of mircolink technology may get funding via local education services, whilst adults can seek funding through a variety of different charitable and professional bodies.
You can safely use these items as they have low magnetic strength.
Yes, cochlear implant recipients can have x-rays at the dentists.
Batteries for the behind-the-ear model of sound processor typically last several days, whilst the rechargeable batteries used in the bodyworn processor normally last for one day. Generally if you are in noisy environments your sound processor works harder and therefore requires more battery power.
Whatever your personal taste, listening to music is one of life’s joys. For some implant recipients, listening to music comes very easily, but for others, it may take a little time.
It’s important to remember that cochlear implants were primarily designed to help with speech perception. Whilst speech and music share some acoustic similarities, there are also several critical differences. Factors like your individual hearing biology, the type of music, the listening conditions and even your personal motivation can all affect your ability to enjoy music. With practice, you’ll develop the skills you need to hear music. The important thing is to establish realistic expectations. Music may not sound exactly the same as before your hearing loss, but with the right approach, many recipients find they can enjoy listening to music they love. Practice will help you fully appreciate music, and the following is a list of tips for developing your new music listening skills.
Choose the listening environment carefully
Music will generally sound more pleasant in a quiet room with no echo. Some people like to use earphones or a direct connection to the sound processor, while others prefer using speakers. Test your options and use good-quality sound equipment.
Choose your music carefully
Music that was familiar to you before your hearing loss can be easier to enjoy.
Start with music that features fewer instruments, such as solos or small ensembles, rather than music played by large bands or orchestras. Songs that repeat the same musical patterns or words can be easier to pick up. Some recipients report that children’s music can be good listening practice for adults too!
Be strategic and realistic about listening
Listening practice should be broken up into short, but frequent sessions. This can be much more effective than one or two long sessions. Don’t expect things to sound perfect immediately. Many people report that music sounds better the more they listen to it.
Aim for good sound quality
Keep the volume at a moderate level. Some people find that digital music formats are easier to understand.
Use visual input to assist your ears and brain
Use visual clues to help make sense of the music such as watching a singer’s lips or the rhythmic action of the piano player’s fingers, to help make sense of the music. Read along with the lyrics. If you don’t have them, you can often look them up on the internet.
Broaden your music listening goals
Remember that music is more than just notes – it’s also a social activity that brings people together. Why not plan and prepare a music event to enjoy with others? If you’re attending a musical event and you become overwhelmed, think about taking a silence break. Turn your processor down or off, or walk outside until you’re ready to continue listening. Be proactive about your listening environment. For example, when making a reservation at a restaurant, ask to be seated away from loudspeakers so that any background music won’t make conversation difficult. For more information on listening to music, please contact your hearing professional.
What should I take with me?
When you travel, make a plan in case you need assistance with your sound processor or MAP. If you have a backup sound processor, make sure you take it with you, and that it has been programmed with your latest MAP. Also, remember to take a suitable AC adapter for your battery or remote assistant recharger, and take basic spare parts with you. Take a copy of your most recent MAP (a printout from your Audiologist will be sufficient). Check the Find a clinic function before you leave, so you can identify clinics along your travel path in case you need urgent assistance. To cover yourself against the loss or accidental damage of your sound processor, there are options like insurance or service contracts in some countries. Please contact your local Cochlear office or distributor for more information. And finally, take your Patient Identification Card that’s provided in your product documentation. This card is available in multiple languages.
Will anything happen to my sound processor when I walk through airport security?
Not usually, and you should leave your processor on in case the security guard needs to speak to you. If your processor is set on the telecoil “T” setting, you may hear some buzzing, which is just harmless electromagnetic interference. You may prefer to turn your child’s processor off before walking through airport security, so they are not alarmed by any buzzing they may hear.
What should I do with my spare sound processor when I fly?
Switch your spare processor off, keep it inside a carry-on bag and place the bag onto the conveyer belt at airport security. Never place your processor directly onto a conveyer belt, as static electricity may build upon its surface and corrupt the MAP. The x-ray machine should not affect your MAP when the processor is turned off.
Note: A low-level x-ray is used to screen carry-on luggage. The x-ray will not harm your processor or the MAP. Never put your spare processor into checked baggage as this could expose it to damaging x-rays.
If the metal detector alarm goes off, what should I do?
If the alarm goes off for no other apparent reason, don’t worry if security uses a handheld wand to screen you. The wand will not harm your cochlear implant, but it will beep when it passes over your sound processor. Show security your Patient Identification Card, and explain that you have an implanted medical device for hearing. Tell them that the sound processor is a hearing instrument that you must wear with your implanted medical device.
Should I tell anyone on board the plane about my cochlear implant or my hearing loss?
Your processor is considered to be a medical portable electronic device, so you should notify airline personnel that you are using a cochlear implant system. Then they can alert you to safety measures which may include the need to switch your processor off.
Will my implant transmit signals that can interfere with the plane's navigational instruments?
Your implant can not interfere with the plane’s navigation or communication systems. Although your implant transmits radio frequency (RF) signals, they are very short range and would be limited to a distance of fewer than five feet from the external coil.
Like other electronic devices, should I turn off my sound processor during take-off and landing?
You may be required to switch off your sound processor so check with your cabin attendant. If you have a remote control for your processor, this should be switched off.
How can I listen to in-flight music or watch a movie?
There are many ways to access a plane’s audio system. One option is the TV HiFi Cable. This connects directly to your sound processor and has surge protection. (See your processor’s user manual for information about connecting the TV HiFi Cable to your processor.)
Please contact your airline to ask about connecting to their entertainment system, as you may need to purchase an adapter from an electronics supplier if their system uses a 2 or 3 prong socket. Before traveling, speak to your clinician about the various options for microphone mixing to guarantee the best sound quality for your personal listening requirements.
What if I'm moving to a different location to live?
If you’re moving, make sure you put Cochlear on your list of companies to inform you of your new address.
We need your current details in case we need to contact you. It’s important to register in your new location (you can do this by finding a relevant clinic near you, especially if you move interstate or internationally so that we can continue to support you with service and repairs.
For the first few months after your Cochlear system has been switched on, you’ll be busy listening and interpreting a world of new sounds around you. When you’re ready to start, there are steps you can take to improve your ability to use the phone.
Newer models of Cochlear Implants integrate blue tooth technology which connects with your smartphone, making hearing and talking on the phone easier than previous models. For a comprehensive how-to guide, click here.
For more advice on making your phone use more successful, contact your hearing professional
Will I be able to use the phone?
Whilst some recipients enjoy immediate success on the phone, it takes time and practice for others.
How can I get the best results from my phone use?
Use a smartphone and audio accessories
Use your Cochlear Phone Clip to make talking on the phone easier. You can even leave your phone in your pocket or bag and enjoy the convenience and safety of hands-free calling. It’s small and lightweight, so you can clip it to your clothing and take it wherever you go. With the phone clip you can:
Cochlear Phone Clip
What should I look for when choosing a phone?
All recipients have a personal preference, and what works for one may not necessarily work for another. If possible, try different models before making a selection.
For Cochlear Nucleus devices, here is a comprehensive guide to choosing a smartphone to go with your device.
Some features you might want to look for when purchasing a home phone include;
Practicing auditory-only skills seems to help most recipients. Your hearing professional can provide the best techniques for your situation. Here are some they might suggest:
Behind-the-ear processors use small high-powered, zinc-air style batteries similar to those used in hearing aids, whilst bodyworn processors normally use rechargeable or standard AA or AAA batteries (depending on the model). Your Cochlear™ implant team will be able to suggest the best battery type for your processor.
Please seek advice from your medical practitioner or health professional about treatments for hearing loss. They will be able to advise on a suitable solution for the hearing loss condition. All products should be used only as directed by your medical practitioner or health professional.
Not all products are available in all countries. Please contact us if you have any additional questions or need something clarified.
This varies from person to person. At switch on, the most commonly reported sounds are described as “mechanical,” “robotic,” “cartoonish” with some people sounding as if they are “talking with marbles in their mouth.” Some clients will only “feel” the stimulation of the implant when it is first turned on. It is very important to recognise this is a process. Over time the sound quality will change as the brain re-learns the stimulation patterns provided by the cochlear implant. For the majority of clients, the sound quality will continually improve over the next twelve months.
The surgeon will only need to shave a very small area of hair immediately behind the ear (1cm to 2 cm).
After surgery and switch on, you will have three to four programming appointments to help you get used to the new sounds you will hear through your implant. Following those initial appointments, you may be seen every three to six months for the first two years and once a year after that if needed.
The implant will not fix it, but you may find your ability to communicate in these situations will improve overtime as you gain greater access to information and your brain begins to tune out some of the background noise.
Answer:No. The implant is likely to come off during sleep, and it may get damaged, so you should take your processor off before going to bed. If you live alone, it is strongly recommended that you get an alerting alarm system. Your local hearing therapist can help organize an assessment and discuss funding options for you. For more information, check out our technology and assistive devices guideline.
Answer:Yes. All cochlear implants have internal t-coils available and connectivity to FM systems or Bluetooth.
Answer: Yes, here are some suggestions: • Wig tape: This can be placed between your skin and the processor, keeping your processor secure against your head. • An Ear mold: This can be connected to your processor (like a hearing aid) and provide an anchoring point for the processor. This is also a good idea to easee the weight of the processor pressing down on your ear. • Third party retention devices: There are a number of options available to buy online by searching for “cochlear implant retention” to see what’s currently available.
Answer: The processor is often heavier than a hearing aid which may cause some discomfort. Compeed helps. It is commonly used to prevent blisters and works great on the ear too. You simply need to trim it to the size you need, stick it to the processor and put it on. Typically, the ear will toughen up over time so that you won’t need compeed all the time, but in the beginning it is very helpful.
Answer: If you are having difficulty with your processor, we would recommend performing whatever troubleshooting you can with your back up equipment at home first. There are troubleshooting guides available for all devices in the instruction manuals you originally got with your equipment, or they are available online at the manufacturer’s website. If you cannot determine the problem through troubleshooting, you should contact your manufacturer or CI clinic. The cochlear implant manufacturers all have resources in place to assist recipients and usually have a greater range of hours than your CI clinic. You can always contact your CI clinic and they will also be able to suggest a repair strategy or they may request you come in for an appointment to further investigate the problem.
Make sure to list your cochlear implant processor under your contents insurance so you are covered for such incidents as a loss or breakage. There are manufacturer warranties in place for limited times for faults, but not loss and breaks.