If you are thinking about playing sports after receiving a cochlear implant, you might have many questions about what is possible. So, I’ve put together some information about playing sports that you might find useful whether you’ve just received a cochlear implant or are an experienced user.
In general having a hearing implant won’t affect your ability to play many sports, but because everybody’s different only your doctor will be able to personally advise you. This matters even more in the first weeks after receiving a cochlear implant, as the implanted area will still be healing.
Many non-contact sports can be played without any special considerations. For sports like golf or bicycling, just put on your audio processor and go have fun! For more active non-contact sports like soccer or running, you can still use your audio processor: the Sports Headband has been designed for situations just like these. It’s a headband accessory that you can use with one or two audio processors, especially the RONDO, to hold the processors securely in place even when playing these sports.
Swimming and Water
A common question that I’ve often heard is: can I go swimming with my cochlear implant? Now with the WaterWear for RONDO, it’s great that I can say “yes, yes, that’s not a problem!” The WaterWear is a fully-waterproof accessory for the RONDO that lets you go swimming while still using your audio processor.
But, going swimming also requires its own planning. A Sports Headband can help secure the external audio processor, and in addition you also have to think about the implant too because swimming in any amount of water will put pressure against the implant. You should talk with your clinic or MED-EL representative to learn if there are any special considerations you should take before going swimming, snorkeling, or scuba diving.
When to Wear a Helmet
Some people have questions about wearing helmets while using their audio processor. While MED-EL cochlear implants are built tough with their titanium construction, if the sport is normally played with a helmet then safety comes first: make sure to wear a helmet! If someone without a CI should wear a helmet, so should someone with a CI.
Sports like bicycling, baseball, horse riding, skiing, and snowboarding are all examples of when a helmet should be used. There are also some sports, like volleyball or basketball, where extra head protection could be a good preventative measure against unforeseen accidents.
What’s a good helmet to use? It’s all about comfort and protection. A good helmet will fit well so that it doesn’t put pressure on your implant. Sometimes helmets from different brands will fit differently, so trying on a number of different helmets can help you to be sure that you’ve found the best one. Modifying a helmet to fit the audio processor inside (like removing straps or padding) is a bad idea, so don’t buy a helmet thinking that you can change it later. Once you pick your helmet, make sure that all of the adjustments, like tightness and position on the head, are set correctly.
Talk With Your Doctor
Sometimes, there are sports that should just be avoided entirely by someone with a cochlear implant. For example, we don’t recommend intense contact sports where blows to the head are common, like boxing, hockey, or American football. If you do play these sports, it’s important to consult your doctor or MED-EL representative and talk about the best way to play safely.