The implant service offers rehabilitation sessions and support to help patients reach their full listening potential. Patients are seen both individually and in group sessions.
The Early Stages
At first the aim is for the patient to wear the speech processor and feel comfortable with it for longer and longer periods. Of course, it will sound very different to what they may be used to hearing.
Many sounds will be unusual at first. The user may only hear beeps, whistles or buzzing and static noises. Nothing may sound normal, including speech. In time, this will improve and it is important to be patient and keep going so that the brain can get used to the new signal it is receiving. If the implant user wears a hearing aid in the other ear, they can continue to wear it whilst they get used to the cochlear implant.
Below are some hints and tips on what to think about in the first few weeks following implantation.
- Think about the level of noise in the room when the user first puts the processor on – quiet, calm conditions are best to start off with. Avoid background noise like TV, washing machine, car engine, radio etc.
- It is a good idea to start using the processor in quiet places such as at home before trying it in noisy situations such as shopping centres, out in traffic, restaurants and cafes to name a few.
- If the sound gets too much, it is ok to take the speech processor off, take a short break and then put it back on. However the wearer needs to get into the habit of using their processor all day every day in order to maximise benefit long term.
- When the user hears a sound they don’t recognise they should be encouraged to ask someone what it is so that they can re-learn everyday sounds.
- Alternatively, if they don’t have someone around to ask, they can work through the environmental sounds checklist in the folder given at initial tuning.
- The patient’s own voice may sound very loud and unnatural initially. This is common and in time it will improve. Being able to hear their own voice will help them to monitor loudness.
- A lot of equipment is issued to the patient in the first few weeks. It is a good idea to take some time to go through the kit and then ask questions at the next appointment if there is something the patient is unsure about.
USAIS run a number of workshops throughout the year to help patients with various issues. Some of the topics are listed below;
- How can you best support an adult in the early days post-implant?
- What factors can affect progress?
- What are some ideas for practise?
- What are some useful tips for how to communicate with an adult with a cochlear implant?
- How can assistive listening technology help?