Wearing a cochlear implant doesn’t bar you from participating in sports. There are various methods of modifying your headgear and cochlear implant casing to keep your processor dry and where it’s meant to be – firmly on your head.
Cochlear implants are water resistant but do check your manufacturer’s warranty. The Neptune processor from Advanced Bionics is waterproof. Here, Ryland swims before and after getting her waterproof Neptune processors.
The Advanced Bionics AquaCase is a hard case in which the Naida processor is inserted. The RF cables goes to the waterproof AquaMic headpiece.
Cochlear offers the Aqua Accessory for the Nucleus 5 and Nucleus 6 processors. Seal the processor in the bag, secure the system carefully, and enjoy!
The MED-EL WaterWear solution is a disposable plastic cover for the RONDO, OPUS 2, and SONNET processors.
Aqua Accessory tips:
- Don’t try to squeeze all the air out of the bag. With some air in the bag, it will float. Test whether it floats before using it.
- A brightly colored bag would be easier to spot if it comes off.
- Try putting colored Post-it® notes in the bag. The bag isn’t very transparent, though.
- Go swimming at a pool where bathing caps are required!
Use the Nammu Swim Hat to secure the Aqua Accessory or an aLOKSAK bag even during aggressive water sports.
You can use zinc-air batteries if you open the aLOKSAK bag when the batteries run out of air. Or you can use alkaline LR44 batteries, although they don’t last as long as zinc-air.
Hats and helmets
In May 2010, Adam Strecker was the first person to be fitted with a helmet specially adapted for a cochlear implant. The company who designed this helmet supply cochlear implant-suitable baseball helmets and motorcycle helmets.
Each sport has different helmet requirements, due to the type and force (and frequency) of likely impacts. American football helmets get banged quite often, and you don’t have to worry too much about weight, so they are quite heavy duty. Bicycle helmets work by compressing the foam interior, and are single-use items. If you ever hit your head while wearing a bicycle helmet, cut the chin straps (so nobody can wear it) and throw it away.
Cochlear implants are located in a place not very likely to get hit if you go flying off a bike, or fall over while skiing. American football is a bit more intense, with rear-side impacts not completely unlikely, but a regular football helmet should be good enough to protect an implant. The implants have titanium cases, and are probably stronger than your skull.
Adam’s helmet is intended to protect the external processor and headpiece, in addition to its usual duties. From the looks of it, nothing comes close to those items. The helmet should be adjusted so it is snug, and does not move around on the head. Adam’s magnet was in the usual position and he has no problems with the helmet padding, he says his helmet felt like a custom made item. It sure looks the business and a very cool piece of kit. This helmet was manufactured by Xenith. Contact the company for more information.
Giro Indicator Universal fit helmet : This has a slight gap in the back/rear sides with just enough room for a cochlear implant processor, and the rear strap goes over the processor. You can add a huggie (from Advanced Bionics) for additional security or you can try a skeleton earmold from Westone. It is like an open hearing aid earmould, and you put the T-mic through it.
One CI user uses a Giro G10 helmet. The “In Form” system makes it easy to dial in a custom fit. He sets the dial wide open, at its largest fit, puts on the helmet and dials it down. When he turns the dial down the guts of the helmet conforms to his head. He wears a balaclava (a ski mask) or a low profile beanie under the helmet which makes a world of difference in keeping the magnet and processor in place, and prevents accidental volume adjustments. It has speakers in the ear pads off to the side so if you have your iPhone/iPod you can listen to tunes on a powder day.
Take your hard hat along to show your surgeon and ask him to place your implant lower to avoid the internal plastic webbing.
Why the Xenith X1 helmet works for football players with cochlear implants;
1) The helmet adapts to the players head and the use of adaptive shock absorbers vs. traditional foam both allows for extra room within the helmet shell and is not truly “fitted” until the player snaps his chin straps. In other words the helmet mechanically seeks the countours of each individuals head rather than simply being filled with dense foam.
2) Because of the lack of dense foam and a relatively loose fit when the player first places the helmet on his head, the CI magnet is not forced off during that process. In addition, if the magnetic device is displaced the player can easily maneuver it back into position by placing his finger through the ear hole and repositioning it as needed.
- Xenith : Football helmets and player testimonials.
- X Sports Protective : Helmets for cochlear implants.
Managing your cochlear implant during sports
If you wear a BTE (Behind The Ear) processor, or simply have too much hardware on your ear with sunglasses and hats, there are different ways of keeping your processor on your head, wearing it off the head. We’ve also added some useful tips.
SUITABLE FOR ALL BTE PROCESSORS
- Skeleton ear moulds You can get one that holds onto the earhook or T-mic.
- Gear For Ears : Ear Gear Cochlear is a neoprene cover and clip – great for skiing
- Full 90 Soccer Head Protection – although your processor could still move around
- Tuck the processor inside the headband of a baseball cap – but always wear a helmet when you ride a bike!
- Huggies – Available from your audiologist, Huggie Aids, or Advanced Bionics (your insurance may cover this item – contact Advanced Bionics and ask them)
- Kinder clip – This has a longer wire and a holder for the processor that clips onto your clothes. Available from Advanced Bionics or Connevans
- Critter clip – great fun for kids. Available from Connevans
- AB Powercel Adapter – enables the processor to be worn off the ear
- T-mic retainer earmould
- Reconditioned PSP body processor – You can put a ziploc bag upside-down over the headpiece to protect it from sweat or rain.
- A thin sweatband which wicks away moisture
- Baseball cap
- Wig tape available from beauty stores such as TopStick from Sally Beauty Stores. Don’t use too much, it might ruin your Skinits!
- Double sided tape
- Reflective vest – with fabric paint or wide tipped fabric marker, write “Deaf” – this can be useful when running and alert other runners
- Sennheiser PMX 70 Sport
Or, as Mike Marzalek says,
I don’t get it. Just pierce your ear & use a black zip tie.
When you’re not wearing your CI, you can put a diamond in the hole.
That’s what I do 😉