Monday, October 10, 2011

Service dogs for HOH or deaf people

Service dogs for HOH or deaf people do an amazing job by helping them to have a better way of life.

I wonder what happens when a deaf person (who has a hearing service dog) decides to have a CI. So a few weeks ago I wrote an email to a service dog organization asking these questions:

1. - What happens when after providing a hearing service dog to a HOH or deaf person that person decides to have a Cochlear implant? Do you take away the dog from that person?
2. - Is a unilateral CI user a candidate for a service dog?

And they answered:
If a hearing dog recipient got a cochlear implant we would not take away their hearing dog. A CI may be switched off at times (e.g. when swimming or showering or sometimes at night to save batteries) rendering the recipient completed deaf. Also, it must be remembered that a CI is not a cure for deafness - a CI may be only moderately effective to a deaf person and so a hearing dog may still be very helpful in alerting and locating certain sounds to a CI user. However, if someone coped very well with a CI, Hearing Dogs and/or the recipient may decide that it would be unnecessary for the CI user to have a successor dog once the first one retires or passes away.

Current CI users may also apply for a hearing dog. Each case would be assessed on an individual basis. It should also be noted that a CI user must let the Hearing Dog work by alerting them to sounds, even if the CI user can hear those sounds (e.g. doorbell) most or some of the time.
I'm not looking to have a service dog as I already have a “gifted” service dog. He is a black Labrador, a natural-born service hearing dog. He had no training and yet, he knew something was wrong with me so he was and always is aware and alerts me of any sound. He is my support.

I’m so glad to have him in my life because sometimes when there is too much noise and I’m walking along with him, I get disoriented and he takes the lead and guide me. And I get disoriented because I only have one hearing device… Onyx is the CI in my other ear – he, he! - It’s like I’m hearing through him!!!

Friday, September 2, 2011

CI users and their families

Hi everyone! Today’s post it’s about CI users and their families.

Having a cochlear implant is a life changing experience that affects your wife/husband, family and friends.  And it’s an adapting process for all…

The first days after the CI activation are the most difficult ones because you and your family have high expectations and that can put unnecessary pressure on you; to avoid that get closer to your family asking them to be part of your progress and to learn how they can best help you. Also, explain what you are hearing and how do you feel with that…

Make your family and friends become your allies; if they experience more of what you are experiencing, they will learn what to expect from a CI.

How to help a deaf person with CI

1.    Make sure that they are paying attention before trying to talk to them.

2.    If you are across the room go over to them and touch them in the shoulder, so you can have their attention.

3.    Do not shout at them. Sometimes when people shout at us the words sounds distorted.

4.    Never open a new conversation when another one is going on, you can confuse them.

People don’t realize how difficult can be to hear in social situations for a CI user and do not put pressure on the person concerned to attend if they really don't want to. It’s very 
uncomfortable for us.

While we are adapting to the CI and learning to hear/ to hear again those things I mentioned before are the key for a successful recovery.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Listening and Hearing, Not the Same for Children with Cochlear Implants (take it from Medical News Today)

Cochlear implants can allow profoundly deaf infants to hear speech - giving them the chance to eventually learn spoken language. However, a new study shows that the children receiving the implants don't automatically know how to listen when people speak to them.

Research presented this week at the Acoustical Society of America research meeting, showed that deaf babies with cochlear implants spent the same amount of time "listening" as normal-hearing infants of the same age. However, these children with implants spent less time than younger normal-hearing infants who had the same amount of hearing experience.

Cognitive psychologist Derek M. Houston, Ph.D., associate professor of otolaryngology and Philip F. Holton Scholar at Indiana University School of Medicine, said the insight would have implications for therapy for children receiving cochlear implants.

"When infants are born deaf, their development is shaped by a silent world. They learn to tune into the sights, smells, and touches that are relevant to them in their environment - but not the sounds," said Dr. Houston. "When they receive a cochlear implant, their world changes and are filled with sounds. But for these infants who have already begun to adapt to their silent environment, sounds may not - at least at first - be perceived as relevant to them."

In other words, they may hear the sounds around them but not have any motivation to focus on them, which slows their ability to learn speech and can be traced for years through word recognition testing.

Children with cochlear implants and normal-hearing children were tested in a sound-proof lab at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.

"It has been well-established that infants will look longer at a simple display - the checkerboard pattern - when hearing something they are interested in," Dr. Houston explained. "I measured their 'looking time' at the pattern when it was paired with a repeating speech sound, and compared that to the looking time at the same pattern with no sound."

Children with cochlear implants spent less time looking at the checkerboard pattern than children who could hear from birth. Furthermore, two years after implantation, children who were less attentive to speech early-on performed more poorly on a word recognition task.

An abstract of his research is available at

Source: Indiana University

Monday, August 1, 2011

For Some Who Lost Their Hearing, Implants Help (take it from The New York Times)

I want to share with you this interesting article.
By JANE E. BRODY Published: October 3, 2006

Jenni Ewald and her husband, Russ, both lost their hearing as young children after bouts with meningitis — Jenni when she was 1, Russ more gradually starting at age 3. They met in college, communicating with sign language and lip reading, fell in love, married and had a baby. But neither could hear their baby cry, at least not until Jenni got a cochlear implant at Loyola University Health System in Maywood, Ill.

Russ was so impressed with Jenni’s result that he underwent the same procedure a few months later. Now living in Tempe, Ariz., both Ewalds can hear their two young daughters.

As victims of profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss — a destruction of the hair cells in the cochlea of the inner ear that transmit sound signals to the auditory nerve — the Ewalds were not candidates for hearing aids, which simply amplify sounds reaching the ear and depend on normally functioning hair cells.
But they benefited from an implant that makes it possible for profoundly deaf people to hear and learn to interpret speech and other sounds. Perhaps as many as one million people in the United States could benefit from a cochlear implant. For children born deaf or who lose their hearing before they are verbal, the implants enable them to learn to talk.

An Intense Controversy

The surgery cannot create normal hearing; people who receive it can hear but might be described as having mild or moderate hearing loss. That fact has rendered cochlear implants the subject of intense controversy. Many in the deaf community say these less-than-perfect devices can turn a healthy deaf person — who learned to communicate using sign language, lip reading or both — into someone with a hearing handicap whose self-image may be undermined.

Still, those arguments have not stopped some 100,000 people worldwide, including about 25,000 in the United States, from undergoing implant surgery. Roughly half of implant recipients are children. Well-known users of cochlear implants include the conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh; Jack Ashley, the well-known member of the British Parliament; and the 1995 Miss America, Heather Whitestone.

Miss Whitestone was nearly deaf for 28 years until she received an implant in her right ear at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore in 2002, allowing her to hear the voices of her two young sons. Early this year she lost what little hearing she had in her left ear and, in August, underwent a second implant, also at Johns Hopkins.
But not everyone with profound hearing loss — uncorrectable with traditional hearing aids — is a candidate for a cochlear implant. Ideal candidates include people with severe sensorineural hearing loss in both ears who still have a functioning auditory nerve; those who have lived only a short time with hearing loss; those with good speech and language skills or, in the case of young children, those in a family willing to work hard to acquire speech and language skills through therapy; those medically able to withstand general anesthesia and surgery, and those who want to live in a hearing world and have realistic expectations about what can be achieved with a cochlear implant.

Dr. John P. Leonetti, a neurotologist at Loyola who performed the implant surgery for the Ewalds, said he depends on the evaluation by the audiologist, who tells him who is — and who is not — a good candidate for a cochlear implant. He said the need for cochlear implants is rising rapidly as the population ages and more and more people lose their hearing and cannot be helped by a hearing aid. Currently, Medicare reimburses only a fraction of the cost of the procedure, keeping it out of reach of many people. Insurance rarely covers the price of even one device, about $40,000, which does not include physicians’ fees, hospital charges and the audiologist’s services.

The Device and Procedure

After decades of experimentation, primarily in the United States, Austria and Australia, the first cochlear implant was approved for use in patients by the Food and Drug Administration in December 1984, initially only for adults and now in children as young as a year old. Special approval is sometimes granted for infants as young as 6 months.

Miniaturization of electronics over the years has resulted in a small two-piece device used in cochlear implants. One, consisting of a receiver and stimulator, is implanted under the skin behind the ear. The other is made up of a microphone, a sound processor and a transmitter that is placed externally over the receiver, held in place magnetically. In the case of young children, the sound processor may be worn in a hip pack or harness. No wires connect the two parts, reducing the risk of infection and damage to the device.

To create sound, the microphone picks up and amplifies noises that the sound processor then filters, giving priority to audible speech. The processor sends electrical signals to the transmitter, which in turn sends the processed sound signals to the internal receiver electromagnetically.

The receiver and stimulator convert the signals into electric impulses, which are sent to an array of up to 24 electrodes. They, in turn, send the impulses to the hair cells and into the brain via the auditory nerve. The two dozen electrodes must fill in for the 16,000 hair cells normally used for hearing.

Efforts are under way to improve the technology. Last week, the F.D.A. approved a system with 120 inputs that is said to enhance the ability to hear music and to improve hearing in noisy environments. It is called the Harmony Hi Resolution Bionic Ear System, developed by Boston Scientific Corporation.

A Two-Stage Installation

A cochlear implant is installed in two stages. The first involves surgically implanting the internal component into the cochlea, which permanently destroys any residual hearing the person may have in that ear. Though some doctors recommend implanting only one ear, bilateral implants typically result in better hearing. The main drawback of a double implant is the cost.

About four to six weeks later, after complete healing of the implant area, the second external part of the device is installed. This is accompanied by a lot of fine tuning to adjust the signals as well as many months and even years of audiological training and, for those who do not already speak intelligibly, speech therapy.

Without intensive therapy and periodic adjustments of the device, obtaining a cochlear implant is all but useless. An unequivocal commitment to a rehabilitation program — which, in the case of young children, necessarily involves a commitment of the parents — is essential to success.

But even with such a commitment, people who have been profoundly deaf for many years may have a harder time learning to interpret speech through cochlear implants because the part of the brain normally used for hearing can, over the years, become diverted to serve other functions.

Children born deaf who receive cochlear implants before age 2 generally do better 
with spoken language than those who receive implants at a later age, though the window of opportunity for processing auditory signals in the brain does not close until adolescence. The sound transmitted through a cochlear implant has a robotic quality, but over time and with electrode adjustments, the sound of speech more closely resembles the human voice. and the doorbell, chirping of birds, and other noises sound pretty much as they do to people with normal hearing, Dr. Leonetti says.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

5 good things about Cochlear Implant

Having a CI is a life changing experience. It makes your life easier and has so many advantages in a world full of sounds. It's something that gives you hope and self-confidence to be an independent person; a person who can be in any place and have the power of "volume control".

 I'm going to mention just 5 of the best things about CI.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hearing by day, deaf by night

Why hearing by day, deaf by night? Because is the reality for CI users. We depend on our processor battery life to hear and when the battery runs off we are completely deaf again. For me it is very interesting this situation because during the day while using my CI I can hear the birds singing, dogs barking, have a phone conversation and even If I want to I can hear conversations across the room...he he!

When I’m in noisy environment I sometimes turn off my processor; we have a sort of power by muting the world when we want to, hearing people can't do that! It’s a relief to have the volume control at my disposition. Being deaf and have a CI has so many advantages!

By night when I’m going to sleep I’m not aware of any sound around me. For me after a long day hearing all kind of voices, noises and sounds it’s very nice to turn off my processor and disconnect from the world and fall asleep easily and quietly.
But if there is any kind of situation during the night or an emergency situation, it’s nerve racking for me as I depend on my husband to know what’s going on. It’s the only thing I don’t like of my condition.

I would like to share with you this quote from Marlee Matlin: ‘’Every one of us is different in some way, but for those of us who are more different, we have to put more effort into convincing the less different that we can do the same thing they can, just differently.’’

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Unilateral Hearing with Cochlear Implant (CI)

For people like me with one CI it’s difficult to understand speech in noisy environments, participate in group discussions and figuring out where sounds are coming from requires a big effort. I can read lips easily, that’s my tool for those situations when my CI it’s not enough.

In family reunions I sometimes get completely lost but there are times where I’m perfectly fine and I understand everything. When I get lost I get upset because I can’t figure out a way to follow the conversation, I’ve tried lip-reading but sometimes people talks so fast.

When I’m walking down the street all the background noise confuses me. I have to look all around to have a clue of what it’s happening. I still need to work on that.
That’s why I’m upgrading to Nucleus 5 from Cochlear®; I’m currently a of the Freedom model, also from Cochlear®. The N5 has a better sound quality in noisy environments.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Recovery period

The recovery period of a cochlear implant surgery is different for every person, for some people it is fast and for others not so much... Some of the temporary side effects are: facial paralysis (may or may not happen), swelling in the operated area, dizziness, little bleeding in the ear, pain in the scar and nausea.   

This is the only picture my audiologist took of my CI before my surgery...

Five hours after my surgery I woke up and I was so, so hungry I needed a cheese burger! Thank God on the way home we stop at Burger King.
Even though my audiologist told me to eat light because if you eat too much you might puke. Fortunately that didn’t happen.

This picture is at home, seven hours after my surgery.

The following sequence of pictures show the healing process of my scar; today is a very thin line (last picture).


My recovery process was quick and smooth, aside from my partial facial paralysis and some dizziness. Now I’m completely recovered and the physical therapy - for the paralysis - was a key factor towards my full recovery. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My story...

Progressive bilateral hearing loss

My hearing loss started in July 2007 I had my first audiometry and it registered a hearing loss of 18% in my right ear and 11% in my left ear. The doctor at that time didn’t give me any solution to stop or to treat my hearing loss… Years went by and in June 2009 my husband noticed that my hearing wasn’t getting any better, so I went to an audiologist and it turns out my husband was right. I have a hearing loss of 39% RE & 26% LE. Obviously my hearing loss was progressing; an ENT specialist prescribes me some steroids. The steroids treatment didn’t work, and my hearing loss kept progressing. The ENT specialist then referred me to an Otologist who suggested the use of hearing aids in both ears. I used them for a few months but my right ear needed a cochlear implant because the last audiometry showed a 100% hearing loss (anacusis which is a state of complete deafness). My left ear is not doing great either 98% hearing loss.

Besides my deafness I had other symptoms like, dizziness, headaches, disorientation, and my ears were ringing all the time. The diagnostic for my illness is called tinnitus. I was feeling very sick.
For me this whole thing of being deaf wasn’t easy to deal with, because I was losing one of my senses and this made me feel so vulnerable I have to rely on my husband for many things like making phones calls, to know what people are telling me… I wasn’t independent anymore. But on the other hand I could count on him, I’m so lucky.

5/13/2010. This was the day of my surgery and cochlear implant. All went good. My recovery was very good and quick. Two weeks later I got activated and also got my hearing aid, it was incredible as I could only hear "shhst shst shh stshst" no words whatsoever, but on my left ear I hear pretty normal with my new hearing aid. Now was the time to adapt to this new gadgets and hope for the best.

When my hubby was at work I was at home alone with my black Labrador Onyx.  I was very uncomfortable with my CI; my hearing was awful, it was so confusing I couldn't identify any sound because all sounds sounded the same for me. For my surprise he started helping me with that too. When the phone rings he comes to me and point me the phone and the same thing was with the doorbell ringing he puts his head in my lap and take me to the door. That way I learned how all I mentioned before sounds. I have a natural born hearing dog!!

To improve my hearing I search lyrics of my favorites songs and I read and listened to them at the same time, so I can associate what I’m hearing to the lyrics…

8/17/2010. This particular day was a shock in my life. As I was sleeping I heard a loud beep on my left ear that woke me up, I knew what this was… Later in the morning I put my hearing aid and turn it on, my husband was talking at the phone and I couldn’t hear him at all! It was what I suspected.... I’m completely deaf now. It was a very sad moment for me and my hubby, my hearing aid didn´t work for me anymore. Now I only depend upon my CI…
By the end of the year 2010 I was able to recognize syllables, but people voices sounded like chipmunks.

2011 arrived and my hearing is so much better; my audiometry with the CI showed a 100% of hearing gain. I accomplished my goal! I’m extremely happy with my CI!
Now I’m a hearing person by day, a deaf person by night!