Friday, September 18, 2015

Lycra Swing – A Great Way to Address A Child’s Spinning Behavior

By Eric Sherman

Shortly after my son received his first cochlear implant and started to become mobile, we noticed he enjoyed spinning in circles.  He would look up at the ceiling and spin in circles, laughing.  Spinning is fun for children and it also helps them learn body control, balance and focus.  Our problem was our son was constantly spinning to clearly satisfy a sensory need, it didn't seem like a game or casual fun for him.

Our pediatrician thought our son’s spinning and other sensory seeking issues may be related to his profound hearing loss and recommended we see an occupational therapist (OT).  Our OT worked on body awareness, coordination, balance, focus and control and it all helped, but our son’s spinning motion seeking behavior continued.  This not only became a problem for him throughout the day, but an issue at night.  Our son was very restless when we tried to put him to bed.

We had a backyard swing but that was not satisfying our son’s sensory needs either.  One day, while at OT with my son, I began to look around at all the apparatus and equipment they had and found my son really liked to be bounced around in this lycra hammock.  The OT would use it either as a reward to get my son to finish a task or to refocus his attention.  I quickly realized this is something I could make at home. 

I went out and purchased a large piece of nylon/lycra fabric and tied it to a carabineer which I attached to a swivel hook (items we picked up at REI and a local hardware store) and hung from a beam in our living room.  The whole set up cost me about $80 which was a lot cheaper than anything you can find in a therapy product catalog.  The fabric hung down little more than half way to the floor. Once my son was inside, his weight would pull him down to about 18-24 inches off the ground.  Everything was measured out so he wouldn’t hit the walls or the ground when swinging.

The lycra swing worked great! It gave our son a real snug feeling, while enabling us to push him in tight fast or large slow circles helping provide the sensory input he was seeking.  Our son became calmer, less fidgety and more focused.  His daily need to spin himself dramatically diminished.  At bedtime, the swing helped settle his body down allowing him to fall asleep much easier.

OT really helped our son, but it was the lycra swing that got us through the day and down for the night.  If you developed something to help address a family member’s sensory seeking needs, please share.  Hopefully, it may help someone else.

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Making Your Rechargeable Batteries Last Longer For Your Cochlear Implant

By Eric Sherman


One of the best benefits of my sons newer cochlear implant processor (he received several years ago) was that it uses a AAA battery to power it.  No longer did we have to depend on a proprietary battery and charger.  We could pick up either 1000 milliamp hours (mAh), Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) rechargeable, or alkaline batteries at any store and it would power the processor. Although using a rechargeable battery was more expensive, it made more economic sense to use on a daily basis than burning through alkaline batteries. 

Rechargeable batteries should last up to 1000 charges.  We don’t really keep track of how many times we charge our AAA batteries, but we went from replacing batteries every few months to maybe once a year… if not longer.  
Smart Charger

We extend the life of our rechargeable batteries by investing in a smart charger.

A smart charger is designed to protect and prevent from over-charging your batteries.  If your batteries feel very warm or hot when pulling them out of the charger, it’s likely you’re not using a smart charger and over-charging and shortening their life span.

The smart charger we purchased allows us to charge, discharge, refresh, and test the batteries. The batteries definitely don’t feel warm after charging.  In addition to extending the life of the batteries, we found that when a battery tests below 700 mAh on our smart charger, it will only power our son’s processor for a short length of time… which is less than a day, randomly shutting off the processor before signaling a low battery.  In general we refresh our batteries with the smart charger, which is a process of discharging and recharging several times.  We do this especially if the battery tests below 800 mAh.  This assures that our son’s processor will be powered throughout the day.  If we can't refresh the batteries back to 900 to 1000 mAh, we will no longer use them in the cochlear implant processor.

Also, not all rechargeable batteries are the same.  Do a little bit of homework before you buy.  We found some batteries lasted longer than others.  Also, we found it best to charge a new NiMH rechargeable battery before using it. These batteries will self-discharge, so who knows how long they have sat in some warehouse or on a store shelf.   There are many resources on the internet; Michael Bluejay (http://michaelbluejay.com/batteries/) put together a battery guide on his blog that you may find helpful.

If you have battery or charger suggestions, please share your comments.  Lastly, remember to recycle old batteries.  

#cochlearimplant #ciwear #CIbattery 

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