Training day for cochlear implant users

10 May 2017 – A Hamilton workshop to help cochlear implant users get the most from the technology attracted attendees from as far away as Te Aroha and Kawhia.

Hearing therapists Sue Jennings and Cherry McWha, who organised the workshop on 2 May, were delighted by the response with 28 clients and support people in attendance.

Sue and Cherry provide aural rehabilitation to many cochlear implant recipients in their work with Hearing Therapy.

A cochlear implant is an electronic medical device that replaces the function of the inner ear. Unlike hearing aids – which make sounds louder – cochlear implants bypass the damaged parts of the inner ear and stimulate the cochlear nerve to provide sound signals to the brain.

Rehabilitation with a hearing therapist commonly involves listening training sessions that are specially targeted to respond to the needs of individual clients so they can better manage their cochlear implant in everyday situations.

Despite their experience working with cochlear implant recipients Sue and Cherry felt many of their clients would benefit from additional expert guidance around using their devices.

Fortunately, Stacey Butler – a clinical specialist from Cochlear Ltd – was happy to help.

“Everybody needs the information more than once and there are always questions that come up.

“It’s an opportunity to get their head around it all. The more comfortable they are using the equipment, the better it is for people,” says Stacey.

Vicki Smith pictured with Thomas Hakaria.

Vicki Smith pictured with Thomas Hakaria, the most recent cochlear implant recipient at the workshop.

Vicki Smith travelled from Morrinsville to attend the workshop.

Vicki has had a cochlear implant longer than anyone else in the group, but insists she’s still learning more than ten years later.

She says one of the biggest challenges adjusting to life with a cochlear implant is changing the habits of a lifetime.

“I’ve been lip reading all my life. With the cochlear implant I’m trying to listen,” says Vicki.

She tries colouring-in books in front of the television so she can practise listening to speech instead of watching lip movements to understand what’s said.

Vicki says she wanted to attend the session with Stacey because there’s a lot of equipment and the technology is changing and improving all the time.

She’s currently coming to terms with a new processor for her cochlear implant that’s more sensitive than her previous one. It means the world sounds different from before.

“Even the washing machine is different. Now I can hear the water coming out of the hose – and the dog’s paws tapping on the lino floor. It’s amazing.”