Friday, September 28, 2018

How to Choose a Cochlear Implant | Determine What Meets Your Needs

Alright, decision time. You or your family member has just qualified for a cochlear implant, Now, your audiologist hands you several brochures of the available cochlear implant manufacturers and asks you to choose which one you want. Individuals and families will spend weeks agonizing over this decision.

The good news is that all three cochlear implant manufacturers make a good device that will provide you access to sound. Unfortunately, you can’t test different brands like you can with hearing aids, so you will have to do some research. This process can be confusing and cause more anxiety about which cochlear implant brand to choose.

First, you should know that not all cochlear implant devices are offered at every implant center, hospital, or clinic. Depending on the country, insurance, and the doctor, you may have a limited choice.  Some government run health programs, as well as insurance companies, may have only negotiated to offer one or two different cochlear implant brands at your center.  Then, you have doctors who have a surgical preference over which device they will implant, as well as an audiologist who prefers working with one cochlear implant processor over another.  These factors can limit or dictate which cochlear implant you can choose.

The internet can be a good source of information. website has compiled the most up to date, accurate, and complete side by side comparison of each available cochlear implant device on the market.  Be careful about Facebook groups and blog stories.  This is where you can find the most biased and in some cases incorrect information about cochlear implants. 

Most people will speak highly of their cochlear implant because they are all good devices.  Some people will say they wished their device had similar features to another manufacturer’s device.  Watch out for those who disparage one brand over another.  You don’t know their motives or the full extent of the story behind their negative experience. This is how misinformation gets propagated. If you search hard enough, you will find that each of the three manufacturers’ has had a recall at some point in their history.  Not to mention, one manufacture being fined for kickbacks to doctors and clinics.  

Here are some tips to help you figure how to choose the right cochlear implant for you or your family member.

1. Develop a list of criteria most important to you, (i.e. Technology, upgrade capabilities, wearing configurations, accessories, reliability, warranty, etc.). Download the side by side comparison chart from

2. Consider how each cochlear implant manufacturers’ device meets your lifestyle needs. (i.e. Wearing configuration and comfort during physical or sports activities, programs for different listening environments, best for hearing music, swimming or for work, etc.)

3. Call each manufacturer and ask questions about their product. Get a feel for their customer service.  Find out delivery times for replacement parts to your location. If you’re not treated well as a candidate, think about how it may be as a customer.

4. See what each manufacturer offers in the way of support for pre and post implantation. Do they have materials for rehabilitation, support groups, or networks of individuals that can help you along your hearing journey (i.e. mentors)?

5. If your cochlear implant center or doctor is not offering you a choice between all three cochlear implant manufacturers, find out why. If the reason is medical related, you may want to seek or consider a second opinion. If the reasons are anything other than medical, you have to determine what is important to you. Do you stay with your doctor or implant center or do go to another facility that offers you the cochlear implant brand you prefer.

6. Make sure the audiologist who will be mapping the processors is competent in working with the device you choose.  Like most individuals, audiologists will gravitate toward devices (i.e. software and equipment) they are most comfortable and familiar working with. We travel almost 300 miles to see our audiologist for mapping sessions. Other families will go as far as visiting other countries to see their audiologist.

Selecting a cochlear implant is a lifelong decision, so you need to do your homework and make a decision based on your own criteria and lifestyle needs. Eliminating a brand because of third-party recommendations or innuendo doesn’t do you any good if that brand has features that benefit you or your family member. These wonderful devices will continue to evolve and only get better over time. Good luck on your decision and hearing journey.

You may find this story helpful too Choosing a  Cochlear Implant, Is Your  Provider Giving You All the Info?


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Ci Wear is a patented shirt designed to secure and help protect cochlear implant (CI) processors and other mobile listening devices. Use as a rash guard, swim shirt or an exercise apparel.    Ideal aqua accessory for waterproof cochlear implant sound processors.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

New Swim Goggles Sure to Make A Splash With Cochlear Implant Users

By Eric Sherman

A new pair of swim goggles has hit the market, and we are happy to report that they are a welcome addition to our cochlear implant accessories.  Splash Swim Goggles are comfortable, fashionable, and use a lycra fabric band instead of rubber or latex.   This wide, conforming, band nicely covers cochlear implant headpieces and holds them in place. 

My son wears Advanced Bionic Neptune processors, a Ci Wear shirt, and goggles when swimming. The shirt does an excellent job of securing and protecting the expensive processors and sound cords, but often we find our son continuously having to re-attach his headpieces when playing in the water.  We have to signal over and over to put his headpieces back on.  I can’t imagine how annoying this is to him.

My son took a pair of Splash Swim Goggles for a test and they worked great! He jumped off the diving board, swam and splashed around in the water and his headpieces stayed on. I decided to try the goggles myself and they worked like any other traditional pair.  They have a nice fit, didn’t pull my hair, and the lenses didn’t fog up. 

What was really exciting about these new goggles was watching how our son effortlessly played in the water without having to re-attach his headpieces.

If you or your child is looking for a comfortable wearing option that secures cochlear implant processors and keeps your headpieces on while in the water, Ci Wear and Splash Swim Goggles is your winning combination.

#Ciwear #cochlearimplants, #Swimming #SplashSwimGoggles

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Ci Wear is a patented shirt designed to secure and help protect cochlear implant (CI) processors and other mobile listening devices. Use as a rash guard, swim shirt or an exercise apparel. Ideal aqua accessory for waterproof cochlear implant sound processors.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Nucleus Aqua+ Accessory Secured With Ci Wear Shirt

Cochlear Aqua+ Secured to Ci Wear
One of the biggest fears for individuals with cochlear implants, as well as parents of children with CIs is losing their processors in the water. One parent told me “If you can’t see the bottom of a source of water, don’t go in.” Cochlear created the Nucleus Aqua+ accessory to allow individuals to swim and enjoy the water, but what’s the point if you are afraid to go in the ocean or lake?

One adventurous family, who often goes to the beach and spends time on a lake, needed a more reliable wearing option to secure their son’s Cochlear Aqua+ accessory.  They searched the internet and found Ci Wear.

Ci Wear is a specialty shirt designed to secure cochlear implant processors. The patented design includes collar loops.  This Cochlear family took a simple key ring and attached it to the collar loops and then tethered the Aqua Plus safety line to the key ring instead of just clipping the line to the shirt.  They used this secure configuration for a week straight on their trip and “it worked great.”
Key Ring attached to Ci Wear

Aqua+ Safety Line Attached 
As Cochlear says, “don’t let a little water hold you back.” Enjoy great activities like snorkeling, surfing, bodyboarding, tubing, and kayaking knowing your processors are safe and secure with a Ci Wear shirt. As this parent shared with us, “we feel our son should be able to do anything he wants. So we are always thinking of ways to make anything possible.”

#swimming #beach #cochlearimplant #surf #Cochlear  #Nucleus

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Ci Wear is a patented shirt designed to secure and help protect cochlear implant (CI) processors and other mobile listening devices. Use as a rash guard, swim shirt or an exercise apparel.  Ideal aqua accessory for waterproof cochlear implant sound processors.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Choosing A Cochlear Implant – Is Your Provider Giving You All The Information?

By Eric Sherman

Recently, I found myself in a Facebook group chat discussing how someone decided on their cochlear implant.  The person shared that they “naively” went along with their surgeons recommendations.  Fortunately, the implant worked out well for the person, but it raised an interesting question.  How much influence does the healthcare provider have over the individual’s decision in selecting a cochlear implant brand? 

I posed this question in several cochlear implant Facebook Groups. What influenced your decision to choose a specific brand? And why?  177 people responded and interestingly 60% of those respondents stated their choice was influenced by the cochlear implant center (hospital included), audiologist, and surgeon.  This is reasonable considering people generally trust their hearing healthcare providers.  But another picture emerged about hearing health professionals I did not expect.

I found people were unaware they had a choice when they were going through the selection process for a cochlear implant.  Certain facilities and government run healthcare systems have contracts with certain manufactures and insurance, limiting the devices that were offered.  Also, choices were limited because of known recalls or device failures. Audiologist and surgeons have a certain level of comfort and experience working with certain brands, so they would guide patients toward one brand over another.  One person even shared that one of the cochlear implant manufacturers settled a lawsuit with the U.S. Department of Justice for alleged kickbacks to health care providers.

Trust and comfort is important when dealing with your hearing health professionals, and you should have all the facts when your audiologist, surgeon, or implant center recommends a life-long implant for you or a family member.   This includes knowing if their recommendations are based on business reasons, experience, or personal preferences. 

In the end, when going through your selection process for a cochlear implant, you need to do your research and due diligence.   If you can’t get the device you want implanted, you may have to switch providers or facilities. 


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Ci Wear is a patented shirt designed to secure and help protect cochlear implant (CI) processors and other mobile listening devices. Use as a rash guard, swim shirt or an exercise apparel.    Ideal aqua accessory for waterproof cochlear implant sound processors. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Troubleshooting Cochlear Implant | Processor Will Not Turn On

By Eric Sherman

Have you ever placed a fully charged battery into your cochlear implant processor only to find out it doesn’t power up? 

Dirt on battery terminal
In a blog story, AAA Batteries For Cochlear Implant Processors, I wrote about how rechargeable batteries can lose their capability to store a charge above 750 milliamps (mAh). When this happens the processor tends to turn on and then shut down or may not power on at all.  Well there may be another issue with the battery that can fool you into thinking your processor has gone bad.

Over time, the processor’s battery terminals can become dirty.  When this happens, the dirt forms a barrier between the battery and the processor’s battery terminals preventing your processor from turning on.
This happened to my son’s processor.  After a weekend of totally refreshing the rechargeable batteries, one of his processors didn’t power on.  I knew the batteries were good because they all tested above 900 mAh and they worked in the other processor.  Plus, my son had recently seen his audiologist for a mapping session and all his equipment checked out.  I thought I was going to have to buy a new processor because his is out of warranty.

Materials to Clean AB Neptune Processor
My son is bilaterally implanted and wears Advanced Bionics Neptune processors on a daily basis.  The Neptune processors are very durable, so it is hard to imagine that it would die from everyday use.

When examining the processor, I noticed what looked like a scuff mark on the brass battery terminal.  I grabbed a Q-tip and 91% isopropyl alcohol and cleaned the terminals in the processor.  The scuff mark came right off.  After making sure everything looked clean, I popped in a fully charged battery and the processor powered right up and has been working ever since. 

Practicing good maintenance on your hearing devices will help them last and stay in good working order. Make sure you follow your manufacturer’s instructions on maintenance and troubleshoot before you start looking at replacing your device. It might just save you time and a lot of money.

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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

AAA Batteries For Cochlear Implant Processors

by Eric Sherman

Have you ever put a fully charged AAA battery into your AB #Neptune processor and had it blink as if it had full power and then shortly after shut down? When we found ourselves in a similar situation, we would replace the battery with another fully recharged battery only to have the same thing happen.   Right away you think, “oh no, my processor is bad,” and then next thing you know, you are on the phone with customer service looking at replacing your device.

The beauty about the AB Neptune Processor is that it’s waterproof and very durable.  People participate in all kinds of extreme activities with their Neptune Processors and they continue to work.  Last year, we shared a story about a father who found his child’s Neptune at the bottom of the ocean (after three days) and the processor still worked.  For many recipients and their families, it’s disconcerting to see their processor shut down unexplainably. Well, it may not be a processor problem at all.

Our son has been wearing the Neptune Processors every day since he received them in 2012.  We have found that the processors will shut down if the battery drops below 750 milliamps (mAh).  Recently, our son’s processors were shutting down. We identified the batteries and did a refresh cycle in our smart charger.  After being refreshed, the batteries could barely make it to 500 mAh and the result was the processor would turn on, beep once and then shut off

Most rechargeable nickel–metal hydride (NiMH) batteries that are available in stores are 850 mAh and come in packs of 2 or 4.  If you are buying rechargeable batteries that are not 1000 mAh and you’re not using a smart charger (see blog story “Making Your Rechargeable Batteries Last Longer For YourCochlear Implant”) you may be misleading yourself into thinking your processor is bad.
Batteries for Cochlear Implant Processors

We buy our 1000 NiMH batteries online and have found that these brand batteries last at least a year or longer if refreshing and charging them with a smart charger.  The ones we recommend are Powerex, Sanyo, Panasonic or FDK.

If your processor is shutting down or doesn’t seem to power up when you put in a fully charged battery, do this simple test:
  1. Take a brand new alkaline Energizer battery, place it in your processor and see if it powers up and works for the day. 
  2. If it does, you have a rechargeable battery problem not a processor issue.  Often people will replace a bad battery with another bad battery unknowingly and think it is a processor issue.
  3. Lastly, try refreshing new batteries as it will help them properly hold a charge. You can get over 1,000 uses out of these batteries if you take care of them in the right way.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Back-to-School with Cochlear Implants – What You Need to Know

By Eric Sherman

School is back in session. Is your child prepared?  I’m sure you’ve already purchased items such as, backpack, pencils, paper, pens, etc., but what about your child’s cochlear implant(s)?  If you are like our family and sending your child off to school with cochlear implants, there are things you should know to help your child succeed in the classroom.  

Cochlear implants have been around for more than 30 years, but it is amazing how few schools or teachers are aware of this wonderful technology.  In our experience, most teachers and schools have never worked with a student who has cochlear implants, and we are in the second largest school district in the country. 

The population of school aged children receiving cochlear implants is growing. Unfortunately, parents have to make sure teachers and schools are educated about their child’s cochlear implants and hearing needs.  If you child is entering a public school in the U.S. with a cochlear implant, you should have an IEP or a 504 plan agreement in place.  These are legal documents under the Individual Disability Education Act (IDEA) to insure your child receives the necessary support in the classroom.  

The Individualized Educational Program (IEP) or a 504 plan is developed to ensure that a child with a disability receives specialized instruction, related services, and accommodations that will ensure their academic success and access to the learning environment.  Similar laws or rights may exist in other countries.

seating for DHH student
Classroom seating arrangement is important
to the success of a DHH student.
When appropriate accommodations are provided children with cochlear implants do very well in mainstream classrooms or in a special education programs.  We have found that the following steps are helpful to our child’s success in the classroom: 
  • Pack a bag in your child’s backpack with extra accessories (i.e. sound cord, audio jacks, etc.), batteries and troubleshooting instructions with your contact info. 
  • Make sure the school has appropriate assistive listening equipment in place, per IEP or 504 plan, at the start of school year.  This is generally an FM system that can directly connect to your child’s processor(s).
  • Meet with teachers during the first week of school and explain how the cochlear implant works, troubleshooting, etc. If your child is old enough or has the ability to advocate for themselves, great!  If not, you’ll still want to discuss the following:

o     Optimal seating for hearing needs in the classroom
o    How to change batteries, sound cords and headpieces, different programs on processor
o    Breaks if needed.  The sounds of a noisy classroom can be overwhelming for some children and small breaks can be helpful.
o     Possible behaviors that might occur if the processors aren’t working properly
o     Speaking naturally, in a clear voice, not talking to fast or shouting
o     Making sure child is following along with instruction
o     Repeating questions and answers during class discussions
o    When using audio & video equipment making sure it can connect to assistive listening equipment
o  Explaining to the teacher the importance of using the assistive listening equipment (i.e. FM system, Roger Pen, etc.)

Every child entering school has different hearing needs and it’s good to look for resources that will best support your child.   We found Advanced Bionics Tools for Schools had a pretty comprehensive list of materials. They have communication logs, tips for teachers, assessment tools, as well as other information that could be helpful in addressing your child’s needs.

If your child participates in school sports, extra-curricular activities, or just plays on the playground, make sure you have an accessory that secures and helps protect the processors.    Our son uses the specialty shirt Ci Wear to secure his devices.

It’s important to be involved and collaborate in your child’s education.  Nobody knows your child’s hearing needs better than you do.  The more the school knows the greater success your child will have in the classroom. 

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