Cochlear implants are electronic devices that substitute the function of a damaged ear, rectifying partial loss of hearing. Unlike a hearing aid that transmits a louder sound, a cochlear implant basically bypasses the damaged hair cells of cochlea or inner ear to provide sound signals to the central nervous system. However, you also need to take some precautions, especially if the implanting is done in children.
Strain On The Head
Internal device may fail in case there’s a head trauma in the region of cochlear implant. Children are more susceptible to receiving a shocking impact, especially when they are still developing motor skills. Parents should take note that any form of contact sports should be avoided by their child. Or possibly they can use a helmet to avoid direct contact. Safety measures against a roller coaster ride is also advised, since a rough ride can cause traumatic effect near the implanted site.
Static Electricity Discharge
Static electricity discharge to the speech processor can be seriously damaging for the child. There’s an internal protector to shield the cochlear implant from being damaged. But if the initial shock diminishes the protective feature of the processor, any following shock will travel to the interior of cochlear implant. In very few cases, revision surgery may be required following a potential damage to the cochlear implant. Always touch your hands to child’s arm or leg, prior to touching the processor, in order to prevent accidental electrical shocks. Some of the activities that generate discharge of static electricity include plastic ball pits, playing balloons, trampolines and plastic slides.
Meningitis is a bacterial infection of the cerebral spinal fluid, which can cause serious neurologic damage or may even result in death. Children with any form of hearing loss are more susceptible to meningitis than people of other age groups. And the worst case can happen with the use of cochlear implants. There are certain vaccinations to protect your child against pneumococcal meningitis. Prevnar 7-valent vaccination is recommended for children under the age of 2 years, and Pneumovax 23-valent vaccination for children above 2 years of age. Experts recommend using appropriate vaccinations before deciding to insert cochlear implants in your child.
Air Traveling And Metal Detectors
Frequent air travel can expose the cochlear implant to damage from static electricity or X-rays. Do not keep your speech processor in check-in luggage, as they will be X-rayed. This can erase the programs in the memory and damage the microphone. Metal detectors may catch the cochlear implant, hence it is recommended to carry an ID card with you that identifies your child as a recipient. When walking through the detectors, the cochlear implant user may hear popping sounds, which can be frightening for the child. Therefore, you should turn off the external processor, when passing through the metal detection area.
It is always a good idea to carry extra cables and speech processor, whenever you are traveling. Also keep a copy of the latest program setting that a local audiologist can easily reload, if required.