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American Annals of the Deaf

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The Parents' Guide to Cochlear Implants

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Counseling Parents, Implant Recipients, and Caregivers about the Maintenance of the System

Before leaving the implant facility on the day of the initial switch-on, parents receive directions on how the device works and how to check that it is functioning properly. These discussions might also include teachers, therapists, caregivers, grandparents, siblings, and the implant recipient. Whoever is in direct contact with the child should have some knowledge of the care and management of the implant. It follows then, that individuals who have regular contact with the implant recipient must have in-depth knowledge of how the device functions. The following issues are generally reviewed during this session:

  • wearing the cochlear implant,
  • turning the device on and off,
  • setting the volume and sensitivity controls,
  • mapping beyond the initial switch-on,
  • changing programs,
  • battery maintenance,
  • checking microphone function,
  • checking the cords,
  • performing daily listening and visual checks of the system,
  • alarms, lights, and icons,
  • precautions regarding static electricity,
  • precautions regarding moisture,
  • MRI issues,
  • cordless telephone, airports, and security systems,
  • physical activity,
  • medical precautions, and
  • contacting the implant center for replacement equipment or other emergencies.
Wearing the Cochlear Implant

Very young children cannot be expected to protect their body-worn processor, so they wear a harness that holds it either on their back or on their chest. Back placement is recommended so that the device is out of the child’s reach and is also protected from exposure to the everyday bumps and grinds of toddler life. They should not wear the device attached to their pants belt. This arrangement can be problematic when the belt is loosened for trips to the bathroom. Wearing the device on the belt exposes the processor to more damaging possibilities. Older children often wear their processors in small packs around their waist; manufacturers provide these as part of the accessory package. It is not recommended, however, that young children wear the device attached to their pants belt. This arrangement can be problematic when the belt is loosened for trips to the bathroom. Wearing the device on the belt exposes the processor to more damaging possibilities.

The availability of behind-the-ear (BTE) speech processors creates new challenges in wearing the device. Most very young children do not use ear-level processors. However, there may be certain occasions for which parents choose this less conspicuous device. For those circumstances, it is important that the case of the speech processor be secured to the ear by an earmold, huggie, or, in some cases, a tether that attaches to the clothing. This guards against loss of the device for the active toddler who may be wearing it.


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