If you’ve been on the HearPeers forum, you might have seen Cara Mia’s username pop up giving advice and sharing personal experiences of having a cochlear implant. Cara Mia, aka Yelena, has been very active in the HearPeers online forum since 2015. Yelena shares her tips on the best online cochlear implant rehabilitation resources around.
My name is Yelena. I am 52 years old and have progressive sensorineural hearing loss. I am a unilateral SYNCHRONY recipient and am now waiting to get my second implant. My hearing loss brought me to the point where only CI technology could give me back my freedom. As I have a big family and work in the financial sector, barrier-free interaction is very crucial to my personal and work life. Improved hearing with a CI has also enabled me to talk freely with my kids about many new or complicated topics, and I can easily understand my noisy extended family at our gatherings.
In regards to my work, a cochlear implant was the only way for me to bring back my ability to discuss quite sensitive issues with my co-workers. Misunderstandings or delayed reactions in meetings or speaking one-to-one can lead to big problems. That’s why I was highly motivated to restore my ability in understanding speech as soon as possible after being implanted. My implanted ear was completely out of action for more than 10 years before my CI, so I was not surprised that I heard very little right after activation. But my surgeon told me some magic words that helped me on the right path to success. Those words were:
Never give up, just practice, stay positive, and have fun
To follow this great advice, I built a list of the cochlear implant rehabilitation exercises that helped me reach my goal. I chose exercises that suited my personality and daily routine, allowing me to be persistent and positive about my rehab efforts.
Below is a list of resources I used that helped me to get results with in-person communication. I now enjoy being a more independent and confident person with greatly improved speech comprehension and speaking skills. I found out most of this information from my audiologist and from reading MED-EL’s HearPeers forum.
Cochlear Implant Rehabilitation Exercises
- The Ling 6 Sounds Test
You can use this application to check how well you hear the various speech sounds. These are crucial for building your listening and speaking skills as they cover the range from low to high frequencies (250-800 Hz). Practicing these sounds will help you to work on four main auditory skills which are:
- – Detection: being aware of the presence or absence of sound;
- – Discrimination: distinguishing sounds from each other;
- – Identification: labeling the sounds with specific characteristics;
- – Comprehension: understanding the meaning of the sound.
Doing the Ling Six Sounds Test in between meetings with your audiologist can show you how well you’re progressing with your listening skills.
- Angel Sound
You can practice identifying and discriminating between different sounds and speech components through this computer-based program. It offers a series of self-paced modules that cover different aspects of the listening process. The level of difficulty is automatically adjusted to match your developing listening skills. The program provides audio-visual feedback, highlighting areas you can continue to practice.
The mobile version of this application can be downloaded at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/angelsounds/id963981095?mt=8
This online programme offers various interactive listening activities for all age groups, and is sponsored by MED-EL. The age ranges comprise 0-2 years old, 2+, 6+, 10+, teens and adults. The interactive activities consist of listening games and exercises including music and songs. The content of this program, along with the interactive format, help you to stay engaged and practice regularly, which is essential for rehabilitation success. There are a lot of good hints in this program for how to make your practice more challenging according to your progress (check out the “Sentence Matrix Block”). Another good thing about this tool is that it involves your family in your rehab process, making them a part of your success.
Additional Helpful Resources
- Spotify MED-EL Music Playlist for CI Users
MED-EL’s music specialists have put together a compilation of songs specifically to help cochlear implant users relearn to appreciate music. There’s a range of music genres available to suit your tase, and you can find the playlists on Spotify.
- TED Talks
These are 5-18 minute lectures on various topics with optional closed captions. They’re helpful because you can follow the presenter’s speech at your own pace, and practice listening to different words and topics. Besides just working on your hearing skills, you will find a lot of interesting and entertaining information for your personal enrichment. Some clips are available in different foreign languages which can be helpful for multilingual listeners.
- ESL Gold
This offers listening exercises and practice quizzes that help to develop the listening skills for understanding complex sentences. The listening block of this program provides video clips on different topics from basic conversational phrases like greetings, describing people, feelings, and situations, to advanced discussions where some ideas are elaborated and paraphrased. The program allows you to choose from different levels of difficulty, from beginner to advanced. Also, there are activities that help with distinguishing the most common consonants such as “CH”, “F”, “L”, “P”, “R”, “S”, “TH”.
You can listen to a video where pairs of similar sounding words are presented to help you to learn how to distinguish them without a specific context. For example: ray-lay-way; berated-belated; rest-lest-test; though-dough-low; etc.
- Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab
This offers more than 100 listening exercises with different levels of difficulty—easy, medium, and difficult. The exercises include general listening, quizzes, and conversations—with or without prompts. You can also check your progress by viewing your results.
- American English Pronunciation Practice
Offers listening exercises for minimal pair practice, for example “pail/tail” and “sip/zip”. Practicing pairs of similar words that differ only by one phoneme and have distinct meanings is a significant part of mastering speech discrimination. The site provides songs, poems, tongue twisters, read-along exercises and quizzes, which are great tools for distinguishing similar sounding words.
- The English listening Lounge
With this program, you can listen to conversations along with written transcripts. Some exercises are available for free. If you want to get access to more practice, the membership fee is $20.00 USD. You can choose between the different topics, like food, lifestyle, travel/leisure, literature, science, religion/philosophy and history/politics in the American, British or International traditions. Each topic is available in five difficulty levels as descriptive or narrative text, lecture or presentation.
- Rudenko Software, The Book Reader
This is a free e-book viewer site with more than 4000 freeware titles available with read aloud function. You can read electronic texts on the downloadable text processor accompanied by one of 18 different distinguished voices, including different tones of male and female voices.
- Speech Comprehension Training System
Practice your listening skills in different environments by listening to the speech and entering what you think you heard. As your skills improve, the background noise level gets louder. A free trial is available to see if you would like to purchase the program.
And of course, the MED-EL website has lots of useful resources for your cochlear implant rehabilitation!
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