How to swim with YOUR CI processor

Recent advances in cochlear implants have enabled some of us to go swimming with our ears on.  Advanced Bionics’ Neptune is the only waterproof processor. But not everybody has one, or is in a position to get one.

Cochlear’s Aqua Accessory is a single-use plastic bag designed for the Nucleus 5 processor.  Usable for up to one or two hours, depending on your location, “Your Nucleus Global Limited Warranty will not be void in circumstances where the Aqua Accessory is used in water with a CP800 series sound processor only, in accordance with the Aqua Accessory instructions.”

The Aqua Accessory’s position on the ear makes sense for a BTE processor, but may not be the best location for water activities.  Because it is a big flap extending behind your ear, it can come off when you jump in the water.  It’s certainly a good idea to use a tether at a minimum, and a swim cap and goggles are even better.

The aLOKSAK bag from LOKSAK is hermetic and certified waterproof up to 200 feet (60 meters) depth.  You can put your processor in a reusable aLOKSAK bag, and tuck the bag under a Nammu swim hat.  Dive, jump, surf, and splash all day long!

Because this solution doesn’t come from the cochlear implant manufacturers, use it at your own risk.  However, we have tested this in lots of situations, including on the incredible FlowRider.

20090824_Flowrider1

Surf until you wipe out, then 35,000 gallons of water per minute carries you to the top of the ramp and over the lip, where you hit the padded wall.  And the Nammu swim hat never comes off!

The aLOKSAK/Nammu combination works with any BTE processor, and also MED-EL’s one-piece RONDO.  The smallest bag, aLOK3-3X6, is large enough to hold any recent BTE processor and headpiece.

Nammu Swim Caps for Aqua Accessory

The Nammu Swim Cap is a stylish option to hold your processors securely when using the Aqua Accessory or aLOKSAK bag to keep your processor dry.  Read this testimonial from a happy Nammu customer!

Update:  Check out our review and video demo.

Cochlear Aqua Accessory Demo

Ben loves to swim with his brother, so he jumped at the chance to try out the new Aqua Accessory from Cochlear!  Ben put the accessory through its paces with his twin processors, and has a bunch of pointers for us at cochlearimplantHELP.com.

For gentle water activity, such as bathing, showers, or hot tubs, you can just hang the earhook on your ear.  If you are in a larger body of water, such as a lazy river at the water park, you may want to secure the Aqua Accessory with the straps of swim goggles, or even use a swim cap.  A clip attaching the hole in the Aqua Accessory to a piece of clothing provides extra security.

For active water sports, a swim cap is really important.  You can swim all day long, and maybe dive into the water head first.  But even the swim cap isn’t sufficient to secure the Aqua Accessory if you jump into the pool, or go down a slide feet first at a water park that ends in a splash pool.  Water coming up from below gets under the flaps and tends to pull them away from your head.

Ben demonstrates how to set up the Aqua Accessory, and gives some tips based on his first trial run! Make sure to click on the gear icon at the bottom right and choose the best resolution, and full-screen view for the best experience.

Ben’s extra 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!

As of October 2012, the Aqua Accessory is only available in Canada.