By Eric Sherman
As a follow-up to my last blog post, “What is the Right Magnet Strength for My Cochlear Implant Headpiece?” I wrote how finding the right magnet strength is a trial and error process. Unfortunately, the error part of the process can cause problems that can prevent you or your child from wearing your processor for a period of time.
As parents, we need to look for signs our child’s headpiece magnet may be too strong before there’s an obvious problem, especially if your child is nonverbal.
Here’s what happened after we accidentally got my son’s headpieces mixed up and put the wrong magnet strength on the wrong side of his head. After a day, his head became red and itchy.
My son didn’t say anything, nor did he complain. As you can see from the photo, the skin is clearly irritated. If not addressed, this skin irritation might have led to an open sore…keeping my son from wearing his processor. We changed the magnet strength and left his headpiece off for the night and fortunately the next morning the skin looked much better.
Here are some signs we discovered when the magnet strength was too strong; skin irritation such as redness, swelling, tenderness at the connection point on the head; behaviors like scratching, rubbing or frequent removal of headpiece. If you start to see scabbing at the connection point, you should definitively consider removing the headpiece for a while until the skin heals. Consult your audiologist about adjustments to the magnet strength.
Also please note that if there are no noticeable skin irritations and your child is having issues wearing his/her headpiece, it could be an indication that other possible problems exist. Troubleshoot your CI equipment and check with your audiologist about the sound processor and map. When our son was around 24 months old, he wouldn’t wear his headpiece. He would deliberately swipe it off his head, clearly indicating he didn’t want it on. After examining all the equipment, magnet strength, etc., we made an appointment with the audiologist, who found a problem with the map which caused the over stimulation.
If you have had an experience with your cochlear implant headpiece and found other signs that you feel will help other CI recipients and their families, we invite you to share them here.
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