November 29, 2017. On October 14, 2017, CHHA PEI hosted a seminar on ‘Demystifying Cochlear Implants’ with Dr. David Morris. One of the sponsors of the seminar was MED-EL, a supplier of cochlear implants. We were fortunate to have Dr. Jodi Ostroff, Clinical Account Manager for Canada, come to the event and answer questions from the participants who visited the MED-EL booth.
So many people had questions that we asked our sponsors if they would consent to an interview to answer specific questions. Dr. Ostroff graciously took the time to do so. As part of this Chapter’s mandate is to provide information of interest to those with hearing loss, this interview is the subject of this blog entry.
Question 1: What is the shelf life of my Cochlear Implant (CI)?
Dr. Ostroff: In theory, a CI can last a lifetime and many people have had their implants for over 30 years with no problems. However, realistically, if a child today was implanted with a cochlear implant, they would likely require a new implant at least once or twice in their lifetime. That is why MED-EL has a very strong philosophy and consistent development of cochlear implants that are “atraumatic” – meaning causing as little trauma to the delicate structures of the cochlea as possible. MED-EL wants cochlear implant recipients to be able to take advantage of any future technologies that may be developed for people with hearing loss. So they have designed their cochlear implants to be as atraumatic as possible in order to preserve those structures for the future.
Question 2. What happens to my CI when I go:
Dr. Ostroff: a) through airport security – nothing interesting. Just remember to take off your processor and tell the security people that you have a CI. Good idea to take your patient ID card with you whenever you travel. Better yet, keep it in your wallet at all times!
b) for an X-ray – same as above.
c) for an MRI – it depends which implant you have. The MRI technicians or radiologist can look up the Instructions For Use (on the MED-EL website) or call MED-EL for assistance regarding your particular implant type to determine how to proceed with an MRI for your specific implant. It’s always best to have your patient ID card in your wallet, which indicates which implant you have. The MED-EL Synchrony cochlear implant is the only implant that is safe for MRI up to 3.0 Tesla (Tesla = the strength of the magnet inside the MRI machine).
d) swimming – swim away! Just take off your speech processor first.
MED-EL has WaterWear which are waterproof plastic sheaths that can be placed over your speech processor to allow you to swim with the processor without worry of damaging the device.
e) skiing (and other sports activities) – most sports are fine – just make sure to wear a helmet to protect your head and the implant inside it if it’s a sport where there is a risk that you could fall and hit your head.
Question 3. If I’m a singer or musician, will my musical tonal ability be restored?
Dr. Ostroff: A lot of CI recipients are disappointed with the sound of music when they receive their implant. This is mostly due to the fact that cochlear implants are designed and engineered to transmit speech as effectively and naturally as possible. Music has characteristics that are different from speech and most cochlear implants are not engineered to best reproduce music. However, MED-EL has a sound processing strategy that is proven to provide good music appreciation to recipients who use that processing strategy.
Question 4. If I’m a child, do I need another CI when I’m an adult?
Dr. Ostroff: It’s likely that children will need to have their CI replaced one or more times in their lifetime – possibly every 25-30 years.
Question 5. Does my CI come in different colours?
Dr. Ostroff: The part of the CI system that you wear on the outside of your head that looks like a hearing aid is called a speech processor. Speech processors are usually offered in different colours and sometimes patterns.
Question 6. What is the warranty on my CI?
Dr. Ostroff: The warranty varies per implant manufacturer. MED-EL’s internal implant (the part that is implanted into the cochlea and behind the ear under the skin) is under warranty for 10 years. The speech processor and most of its external components are under warranty for 5 years.
Question 7. Do you offer clinics or other support here on the island?
Dr. Ostroff: Patients with cochlear implants in any part of Canada would normally reach out to the centre and the audiologist where they received their implant. However, MED-EL recipients can contact the 24 hour audiology support number (888-633-3524). If a CI recipient would like to exchange something under warranty or order spare parts, they can contact our distributor in Toronto – Union Hearing Aid Centre – (866-269-8880) – they offer free shipping on orders over $50.
Question 8. Everyone is talking about remote access. I don’t even use a computer, so how can I do this?
Dr. Ostroff: MED-EL does offer remote programming but remote access is usually for the audiologists so that they can program your cochlear implant remotely – without you having to come into the clinic.
Question 9. Is my CI accessible for hearing loops? While we don’t have much looped sites on the island yet, we will be receiving funding to nudge that project along.
Dr. Ostroff: Yes. MED-EL CI speech processors have a telecoil built into them so you can access hearing loops.
Question 10. If a better model comes along, can I exchange my CI?
Dr. Ostroff: You mean your speech processor! When a new generation of speech processor is developed, you will have the opportunity to upgrade (i.e. exchange) to it. However, you do not NEED to upgrade your speech processor when a new one comes out. MED-EL is the only manufacturer that insists on making every single one of their speech processors backwards compatible to the very first cochlear implant (internal components) that they ever produced. We want to leave no patient behind! Depending on the funding in your province, there will be different costs associated with upgrading your speech processor.
Question 11. What is in my toolkit (the accessories package) and how do I use it?
Dr. Ostroff: That depends on when you received your cochlear implant. However, MED-EL CI recipients are currently receiving the following items in their patient kit:
|1 SONNET Control Unit — Including Earhook, Microphone Cover, and Earhook Pin|
|1 FineTuner With Battery|
|1 SONNET Battery Pack Frame|
|2 SONNET Battery Pack Covers|
|1 DL-Coil Base (with #2S and #3S magnet inserts)|
|1 DL-Coil Cover L without lock|
|1 DL-Coil Cover L with lock|
|2 SONNET DL-Coil Cables 6.5 cm|
1 SONNET Earhook & Pin
|4 SONNET Microphone Covers|
|1 SONNET FM Battery Pack Cover|
|1 EuroAudio (3-pin) Adaptor Cable|
|1 Electrical Drying System|
|2 Zinc-Air Battery Packages|
|1 Speech Processor Test Device|
|1 Audio Processor Tool & Brush|
|1 DL-Coil Manual|
|2 User Manuals (English/French)|
|1 Registration Card|
FM connectivity – Roger Pen and RogerX receiver or Roger MyLink receiver
If you need help, you can contact your CI audiologist, or the MED-EL 1-888-633-3524 number.
This concluded the interview. If there is sufficient interest on the island, MED-EL is willing to come to PEI in 2018 to do a “What’s In My Toolkit” seminar. If you are a MED-EL recipient of a CI and this is of interest to you, let us know.
Do you have a tip or story to share about cochlear implants, or living with someone who has a cochlear implant? Let us know! Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Daria Valkenburg