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Updates in Cochlear Implant Technology

At Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute we work with all three of the FDA approved cochlear implant manufacturers. One of those manufacturers, Advanced Bionics, has recently released their newest sound processor. Below you will find a video introducing the new device!

If you are interested in discussing this new technology, you can sit down and chat with an Advanced Bionics representative in our office! Reach out to Karalee Kowar at Karalee.Kowar@advancedbionics.com to reserve a spot!

FDA Approves Cochlear Implantation for Single-Sided Deafness

Single-sided deafness (SSD) can create difficulties for people localizing sound and listening in the noisy situations. This can lead to negative impacts on communication and socialization. SSD can be caused by viral infections, head trauma, Meniere’s Disease, or have an unknown cause. Treatment options have been limited, with cochlear implants typically reserved for people with severe to profound hearing loss in both ears.

On July 22, 2019, Med-El USA, a manufacturer of cochlear implants, announced that the Food & Drug administration approved their cochlear implant for people 5 years and older with profound hearing loss in one ear and normal to mild hearing loss in the other. Research supporting the approval shows that SSD participants had improvements in speech understanding in quiet and noise, and improvements in sound localization when they obtained the cochlear implant.

Cochlear implantation still requires certain testing and considerations, but is a step forward for the treatment of single-sided hearing loss.

Cochlear Implant Seminar

Are your hearing aids no longer the best solution for your hearing loss?

Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute has teamed up with Cochlear Americas and WJCT to discuss cochlear implants with the community. Attendees will be given the opportunity to meet with members of the Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute and Cochlear Americas team. At the event, there will be cochlear implant devices and accessories that can be viewed and held by the public. Lunch will be provided to those that RSVP prior to November 6th.
Please see below for further details.

 

Enjoying the Summer Weather with Your Cochlear Implant

If you or a loved one has a cochlear implant there is no need to miss out on the joys of enjoying time with friends or family in the pool or at the beach. Each cochlear implant company offers a solution to enjoy conversation around water.

 

• Cochlear:
o For their on-the-ear style processors (N6 and N7)Cochlear offers the Aqua Kit which includes a waterproof case and cable/coil. A clip is also available to attach the waterproof case to a ponytail, bathing suit or T-shirt for worry free swimming.
o The off-the-ear style offers the Kanso Activity Kit which includes a waterproof case that can be held in place with a sweat band or with goggles.

 

• Advanced Bionics:

o The Naida processor offers a waterproof case and cable/headpiece that can be clipped to a bathing suit, T-shirt or even your swim trunks thanks to a range of cable lengths.
o The Neptune processor is a fully waterproof processor that needs no extra case or cover. The Neptune can be clipped to a T-shirt, goggles or bathing suit.

 

• Med El:
o The on-the ear Sonnet processor kit includes a waterproof sleeve and adhesive system to allow the processor to become fully waterproof.
o The Rondo is an off-the-ear processor that is also available with a sleeve that can be held in place with a clip for added safety.

 

When using a waterproof solution be sure to use a rechargeable or alkaline battery rather than the 675 Zinc Air cochlear implant battery. It I also recommended that after you remove your processor from the waterproof case to place the equipment in the dry-kit. Waterproof devices can be included in your initial cochlear implant kit or are available for purchase out of pocket.
If you would like more information regarding whether a cochlear implant is an appropriate treatment option for your hearing loss contact Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute at 904-399-0350 to discuss your options.

What to Expect From a Cochlear Implant

A cochlear implant can be a life changing treatment for people with severe hearing loss who receive little benefit from hearing aids. An important component of the cochlear implant process is to approach the first several weeks after activation with realistic expectations, commitment and patience. A cochlear implant is designed to bypass the damaged hair cells of the hearing organ, the cochlea, and deliver sounds to the brain by directly stimulating the auditory nerve. The brain then interprets the sound as a meaningful message. This mechanism is very different than the way our natural hearing system is designed so right away the brain is unable to recognize the sounds delivered by the cochlear implant. The good news is that the brain is an amazing organ and capable of learning new things all the time. The brain will learn to recognize speech and environmental sounds with exposure, experience and practice.

 

Exposure: Once the cochlear implant is activated the brain needs to hear sound in order to begin to learn to adapt. Although conversation will likely sound strange and unclear at first the only way to make progress is to expose yourself to all kinds of sound; conversation, music, environmental sounds…anything!

 

Experience: A key part of cochlear implant process is experience; wearing the cochlear implant all day every day, allows speech and other sounds to become more pleasant and clear. Think of the adjustment to a cochlear implant as being a marathon rather than a sprint.

 

Practice: Finally practice, practice, practice! Similar to completing physical therapy exercises at home following a hip replacement surgery, listening therapy must be completed to teach the brain to listen with a cochlear implant. There are many types of listening exercises that can make practice enjoyable. These can be done on your own or with a partner.

 

Keep in mind everyone progresses at their own pace, have patience with the process and know that the benefits will be worth the journey.

 

How Do I Troubleshoot My Cochlear Implant?

Cochlear Implant Troubleshooting:

  • Make sure you have working batteries.
    • Use the disposable battery pack with a fresh set of 675 implant plus batteries.
    • Do not use 675 hearing aid batteries.
    • Check that your charger is working and that the rechargeable battery is able to be charged.
    • Try multiple batteries and see if you continue to have the same problem.
  • Change microphone protectors
    • Over time these can become clogged and will provide distorted sound.
    • Extra protectors and instructions on how to change them can be found in your patient kit. There are also videos online for instruction.
  • Switch out each part individually to determine what it broken.
    • You should have an extra of each piece (cable, coil, battery pack) in your patient kit. If you switch out just the cable and the implant starts working, then you know that your other cable needs to be replaced.
    • Keep a pile of equipment you know is working and a pile of equipment that is broken. Keep these two piles separate.
    • Once you have figured out what is broken, you can order these parts either directly from your manufacturer or through your audiologist.
    • If you have working backup equipment, you can use it until you can get your primary implant fixed. If your backup processor does not have your current programs in it, please let your audiologist know.
  • Call the company
    • The cochlear implant manufacturers are here to help. They all employ great customer service representatives who are happy to help you figure out what is broken as well as order you the new parts that you need. Do not hesitate to call them. The numbers are listed below:
      • Cochlear Americas: 1-877-883-3101
      • Med El Corporation: 1-888-633-3524
      • Advanced Bionics: 1-877-829-0026
  • Check out the company website for troubleshooting help and videos.
  • If you are unable to figure out what part it broken, make an appointment with your audiologist. They will be able to figure out what is not working and order working equipment from the company.