Post-operative Follow-up and Management, (Re)habilitation
Post Operative Follow-up and Management, (Re)habilitation
Approximately 2-6 weeks after surgery the external speech processor is fitted and "switched on". Programs are made for the individual recipient by the audiological scientists over numerous sessions to in order to obtain optimal access to speech and environmental sounds.
Hearing assessments will be undertaken prior to implantation and these assessments will continue following device switch-on. These assessments are used to monitor each individual’s progress and help the team to customise the (re)habilitation programme to each individual’s needs.
Additionally, there may be specific research projects that you may be asked to assist with over time. The information gathered from the research is used for the benefit of future cochlear implant users.
Are the benefits obvious immediately after implantation?
For most people, time and practice is required before they can make the most out of their cochlear implant. Many people find improvement in their hearing performance up to two years after implantation, and children may continue to improve their listening and speech and language skills for many years.
For children who were born deaf, it generally takes longer for the full benefits to become apparent. One has to bear in mind that children with normal hearing (ie, without a hearing loss) take years to learn to speak and follow their parents' speech. This process is the same with children post cochlear implantation. You can discuss this further with the speech and language therapists on the team.
Following switch on, cochlear implant recipients need support and time to understand and make sense of the sound coming through the cochlear implant.
Do people progress at different rates after the implant?
Yes. There are several factors that can affect how an individual develops their auditory skillspost cochlear implantation including:
- Cause of hearing
- Age at onset of hearing loss
- Length of profound hearing loss prior to implantation
- Age at implantation for children
- Degree of residual hearing and hearing aid use prior to cochlear implantation
- Presence of additional needs
- Presence of central auditory processing disorder
- Number of active electrodes
- Lenght and amount of time using cochlear implant
- Communication mode
- Educational setting for children
- Consistency of (re) habilitation and support from family, peers and professionals
- Auditory memory
- Auditory and cognitive attention
- Motivation and personality (ie adaptive to change)
As each recipient is an individual, the team's aim is to ensure that the expectations of a prospective recipient or their family are realistic and achievable.
What does the implant sound like?
The sound coming through the implant can initially sound unnatural and electronic. Adult recipients can report being overwhelmed by the amount of auditory stimulation they get and that people's voices sound alien or like cartoon characters. Children, on the other hand, are typically starting from scratch and can also be overwhelmed by the experience of hearing for the first time. Given time and the necessary adjustments to the cochlear implant, most individuals report that their implants begin to sound ‘normal'.
Will I still experience tinnitus following a cochlear implant?
Most people find their tinnitus is masked by the sounds coming through the cochlear implant. However, there are instances where tinnitus perception has been exacerbated by cochlear implantation.
Some people also experience temporary worsening of tinnitus immediately post cochlear implant surgery but the tinnitus subsides after a few days.
How often must I wear my speech processor?
In the beginning as you adjust to a very noisy world you may not wish to use your implant all day; however, daily and consistent use will help you adapt more quickly to the new sounds you are hearing.
What are the benefits of a cochlear implant?
The implant will help to:
- Monitor the recipients' own voice level
- Develop speech and language in children
- Sometimes improve speech intelligibility in adults
- Increase ease of listening
- Provide awareness of sounds around the recipient, thus reducing the sense of isolation
- Help to follow conversation better with the help of lip-reading.
- Some people may be able to hear experience hearing and understand speech without the need for lip-reading
- Telephone use is an outcome some (but not all) cochlear implant recipients are able to achieve
What are the limitations of a cochlear implant?
Each individual will progress at different rates and achieve varying levels of success with their cochlear implant.
- Each individual will progress at different rates and achieve varying levels of success with their cochlear implant.
- Following a conversation in background noise is challenging for the majority of cochlear implant recipients
- Some people may find the cochlear implant is a great aid to lip-reading but find it difficult to hear and understand a conversation without visual cues even in quiet situations
- The ability to use the telephone is an outcome some cochlear implant recipients are unable to achieve.