Guide to Cochlear Implants
Plastic slides or gymnastic mats are potential sources of static electricity in the child’s environment. When a child wishes to play on this equipment, parents can simply remove the external implant equipment and allow the child to play freely. Should a child play on plastic equipment while wearing the external components, there is a risk that the MAP will be erased or altered. If this happens, the parents have to take the child to the implant center so that the MAP can be rewritten to the speech processor.
Computers are another source of static electricity. To reduce the risk of ESD effects when using a computer, the child’s chair should be placed on an anti-static mat and the computer should be fit with a static-proof screen. During winter months, if the classroom or home is unusually dry, it is best to spray the carpeting with an anti-static spray or a mixture that contains 50 percent water and 50 percent fabric softener. A list of these ESD precautions is available in booklet form from device manufacturers.
Precautions Regarding Moisture
In environments where the humidity is very high, external equipment may malfunction due to moisture buildup. The microphone is especially at risk since it is located either behind the ear or on the head. Individuals who perspire excessively may find that the microphone delivers an intermittent signal. Parents can prevent moisture damage through the use of a “dri-aid kit.” (These same kits are used for hearing aids, too.) Parents should use these kits nightly to reduce moisture that may have built up during the day.
The audiologist will outline MRI precautions during the postactivation counseling period. In order to ensure that a child is not given an MRI in an emergency, some parents choose medical alert bracelets with a “No MRI” warning. (See chapter 3 for more information about MRI compatibility issues.)
Cordless Telephone, Airports, and Security Systems
Because the implant sends its signal across the skin via FM transmission, there may, at times, be interference from other systems that operate at or near the same frequency. This may occur with some cordless telephones (those tuned to a 47-megahertz frequency. Cordless telephones in the 960-megahertz region are recommended for families with implant users to ensure that there is no disruption to the signal.
Airport security systems may detect the small amount of metal in the headset magnet and register its presence. Thus, when a child with an implant passes through the metal detector an alarm may be set off. Although identification cards are provided for implant users to present when traveling, airport personnel will likely scan the child using a hand-held wand. In some circumstances, airport security may ask the child to remove the external unit and send it through the X-ray machine. If this occurs, there is no cause for concern, as this type of inspection will not damage the implant in any way. In addition to airport metal detectors, various inventory control systems are used in libraries, department stores, and malls. Children passing through these systems will not activate the alarm but may hear a click or another type of sound.