If you have been hearing and speaking for most of your life, you may wonder why you need rehabilitation after getting your cochlear implant. Even if you already have effective communication skills, you still need to learn to hear with your device! A cochlear implant stimulates your hearing nerve through electrical pulses. Your brain is stimulated in a different way through natural hearing, and it can take time to adjust to this change. Because of this change, early listening activities are key to getting the most benefit out of your new device.
Sound identification and the Ling sound test are two common early listening activities that you may practice regularly with your hearing specialist. Here we’ll explain what they are and why they’re important in your journey to hearing.
Task: Sounds Identification
Immediately after switch on, you might begin to hear various “new” sounds. Rustling of leaves, wind noise, crumpling of paper, and so on. Your hearing professional may play a range of recorded sounds like this to you. They will then ask you to identify these everyday sounds.
Why it is Helpful:
Sound identification tasks don’t just confirm if you can hear with your device. It provides an opportunity for you to think about the quality of sounds that you hear. Listening with a CI is not a passive process—it’s an active, cognitive task. These tasks may also shorten the time it takes for you to adjust to the new sounds through your device. It is time well invested!
When you listen to different sounds or voices, analyze the quality and clarity of sounds. Is it a strong sound, robotic or sharp? Or are some sounds louder than others? Try keeping a listening diary or log to describe these sounds and experiences. This will give you better understanding and acceptance of what you can hear through your new device.
Task: Ling Sound Test
Another early listening activity that the professionals might use is the Ling sound test. This is a simple way to check if someone can hear the speech sounds they need to build their listening and speaking skills. There are six sounds in the Ling Six Sound Test that range from low to high frequencies. Your hearing professional will say each of the sounds, and will ask you to repeat the sound back to them.
Why it is Helpful:
This test does two things. Firstly, it checks if you are able to hear each of these sounds, which tells the hearing professional if you can hear the sounds of speech. Secondly, it checks if your hearing aid or audio processor is working properly.
Getting support from your hearing professional
In these early stages after activation, it is very important to stay in touch with your audiologist and attend all mapping sessions. The feedback that you provide about your listening journey will be helpful as they make adjustments to your processor and program.
It is also important to know how to handle your device independently. Your hearing professional can help with information about maintenance, and show you how to fix any issues with your hearing device.
Remember: Work closely together with your hearing professional to help your brain adjust to your new device! Listen not just with your ears, but with your BRAIN!
This post was written with help from Janani Jeyaraman, a rehabilitation specialist at MED-EL.
Have you just had your activation day? Find out our tips for getting ready for cochlear implant rehabilitation.
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