Cochlear Implant and Associated Technologies for Hearing

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1 Cochlear Implant and Associated Technologies for Hearing Mada Assistive Technology Center Tel: Fax:

2 What is a cochlear implant? Cochlear implants are tiny, intricate electronic devices that help provide a sense of sound to severely deaf individuals. Surgically implanted under the skin behind the ear, this device is made of four basic parts: The microphone picks up sound from the environment. The speech processor translates the sounds picked up by the microphone into signals. The transmitter and receiver/stimulator receive these signals and convert them into electric impulses. The electrodes send these impulses to the brain. Cochlear implants (CI s) do not restore hearing to normal. They provide electronic sound. They do not amplify sound like hearing aids do: instead a cochlear implant compensates for damaged or non-working parts of the inner ear. They can help in understanding speech and understanding environmental sounds. How successful is a cochlear implant? How successful the cochlear implant is depends on many factors The age of the patient when he or she receives the implant Whether the hearing loss was present before or after the patient developed language skills The motivation of the patient and his or her family. It is now appropriate for children to receive implants at a very young age. Providing young children with access to sound during early critical periods has a profound impact on acquisition of spoken language. Current research further substantiates that children who receive implant(s) at an early age can demonstrate impressive growth in spoken language and literacy achievement comparable to the levels of their peers with typical hearing. Adults who have lost all or most of their hearing later in life often can benefit from cochlear implants. They learn to associate the signal provided by an implant with sounds they remember. However both adults and children will need to make a commitment to training and practice in order to gain the most from their cochlear implants. They will work together with audiologists, speech-language pathologists, teachers, and counselors as they learn to listen, improve speech, use speech reading, and handle communication. They are taught how to use the implant and how to respond to the sounds they are receiving. For those who have heard before, sounds through the cochlear implant may seem unnatural at first and those who have not heard before must be taught what the sounds are. P a g e 2

3 Using Cochlear Implants with Assistive Listening Systems (devices) ALS s ALD s Assistive Listening Systems (ALSs) are sometimes called Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs). Essentially they are amplifiers that bring sound directly into the ear. They separate the sounds, particularly speech, that a person wants to hear from background noise. They improve what is known as the speech to noise ratio. ALDs are sometimes described as binoculars for the ears because they stretch hearing aids and cochlear implants, thus extending their reach and increasing their effectiveness. ALSs utilize FM, infrared or inductive loop technologies. All three technologies are considered good. Each one has advantages and disadvantages. (Please see factsheet on Hearing Impairment for more details regarding these technologies) Using the Cochlear Implant with Assistive Listening Systems Cochlear implant users may use a patch cord to connect an ALS receiver directly to their speech processor. Some speech processors are body pack sized. Others are ear level and miniaturized to the size of a behindthe-ear hearing aid. Consumers with ear level speech processors can utilize neck loops for listening in the same way as hearing aid users. It is advisable that people wearing cochlear implants should familiarize themselves with Patch cords. Patch cords are short wires with a plug at each end, enabling a connection between a cochlear implant speech processor and the jack of the equipment the cochlear implant user is listening to. One patch cord manufacturer advises connecting the short end to the speech processor. Some cords have a mini plug (2.5 mm instead of 3.5 mm) for connecting to devices requiring the smaller plug. Consumers report varied experience with the quality and effectiveness of patch cords. When using the patch cord, the microphone is automatically blocked, and sound is entering the cochlear implant only via the patch cord connected to the ALD. Different styles of microphones that work with the ALDs, such as conference microphones, can also be used with CIs Electrical requirements of devices vary, as do patch cord features. Therefore, consumers need to be aware that one cord may not work with everything. It is frustrating, for P a g e 3

4 example, to want to patch into a cell phone without knowing whether the cord will work and to be unable to receive advice on this specialized issue from the local retail sales person. However, some vendors sell patch cords that work with the phones they sell. Patch cord manufacturers should be able to provide information on compatibility, as can ALS manufacturers and cochlear implant manufacturers. It is a good idea to talk to the audiologist that installed the cochlear processor before purchasing a patch cord as there is a risk of damage to the processor if you do not have the right patch cord. Phone and mobile phone use People with cochlear implants can and do use mobile phones successfully. Those who can understand speech without visual cues tend to have greater success. Cell phones rated M3 or M4 (M stands for microphone) are likely to generate less interference for someone using a cochlear implant. M4 is the better of the two ratings. Some use a telecoil (see definition below) feature to hear a clearer sound. If it is planned to use the telephone with telecoil make sure the phone is Telecoil compatible. Most telephones and cell phones come with telecoil compatibility. Phones that present ratings of T3 or T4 mean that they meet or surpass the compatibility standard. Each brand of cochlear implants sets the telecoil differently, instructions on setting the telecoil with different sound processors can be found on the following website: the best advice for a cochlear implant user is to test a new phone out before purchasing as all phones vary on how well they work with the implant. Further Information: For those requiring further, more specialist advice on using a Cochlear Implant, first consult with a suitably qualified Speech and Language Pathologist or Audiologist. More detailed assessment of using phones or mobile phones with Cochlear Implants or other Assistive Listening Devices can be obtained from the MADA Qatar Assistive Technology Center Further information is also available from the following sources: P a g e 4

5 For further information contact the MADA Qatar Assistive Technology Center, 7 th Floor, Al Nasr Tower B, Al Corniche Road, West Bay, Doha, Qatar. P.O. Box Ph: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. We request attribution to Mada and all other authors of original materials is retained P a g e 5

6 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. We request attribution to Mada and all other authors of original materials is retained P a g e 6

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