The recently released Ci Wear shirt is a welcome addition to our cochlear implant repertoire. We are a family of five, and two of our three children wear Advanced Bionics cochlear implants. Our nine year old son wears the Naída CI Q70 processors and our three year old daughter wears the Neptune processors as their go-to processors. However, whenever my son participates in sports, he always wears his Neptune processors.
Our family is very active and involved in many sports and outdoor activities. We live near the ocean, so beach time and swimming are a big part of our daily lives. We’ve struggled for many years to come up with a good way to wear the cochlear implant processors at the beach. Prior to the release of the waterproof Neptune processors, we tried Ziploc bags and fanny packs, modified Otter box containers, and many different homemade pocket shirts to hold the CI processors. We were ecstatic when the waterproof Neptune processor was released, but still struggled to find the right wearing option that worked for our family during water activities. I again tried sewing my own pocket shirts for the beach to hold the Neptune processors, but wasn’t able to make a shirt where it wasn’t obvious there was a CI processor attached, and couldn’t find a way to keep the cords from becoming tangled. At a routine visit to our audiologist I was shown a prototype of the new Ci Wear shirt. At first glance it seemed like the perfect solution for wearing the CI processors at the beach. I was excited to try it out and see if it really worked as well as I thought it would.
We were sent home with a prototype shirt to try out. The shirt looks and feels like a high-quality rash guard shirt and is well-made. The shirt is very well designed with pockets on each sleeve where the processor can be inserted. There is an elastic band in the pocket where the processor can be clipped for added security. Inside the back of the pocket there is a small hole to thread the cord through, and another loop inside the neckline to thread the cord through which helps keep the cords nicely in place and prevents tangling. The loop in the neckline also helps keep the cord and headpiece in place when the headpiece falls off, making it much easier to find the dislodged headpiece and put it back on. Another nice feature of the shirt is that it isn’t obvious that my kids are even wearing CI processors at all. The CI processors are barely visible when inside the pocket (it just looks like a bump in the shirt), and the cords are nicely concealed inside the shirt and only appear where they come out of the collar.
Our first sporting activity after receiving our prototype shirt was a soccer match. Although the shirt was designed for the water, I decided to give it a try for my son’s soccer game to see if it helped hold his processors in place. His normal way to wear his Neptune processors was to clip them to the collar of his shirt, but they would bounce around when he ran, and the cords were always an issue. I inserted both processors in his shirt before he put it on, then he put the shirt on with the processors already in place and off he went. I was concerned he might get too hot in the rash guard because it is a thicker material than a regular Under Armour shirt, but it was not a particularly hot day and he didn’t complain. The shirt worked amazingly well and kept both his processors and cords tucked away while he ran up and down the field. It also hid his processors nicely. The shirt was an improvement over the way he used to wear his processors.
We didn’t get a chance to go to the beach before I had to send the shirt back so I didn’t try the prototype shirt at the beach. I received an email a few weeks ago that the shirts were available for sale and immediately purchased two: a gray one for my nine-year old boy, and a blue one for my 3-year old girl. I couldn’t be happier! We’ve now worn our shirts at the beach in the water and they work extremely well. The processors are very secure in the pockets and I don’t have any worries about the kids losing their processors in the waves while boogie boarding or surfing. The cords do not tangle nearly as much as they used to due to the loop in the collar that keeps each cord on the correct side. It’s also nice that the shirts have built-in UV protection – an added bonus.
My son also routinely wears his Ci Wear shirt under his basketball jersey and it works equally well for basketball. I’m sure that his CI Wear shirt will become a standard part of his uniform he wears for any sport.
The shirt should also work well for other CI processors (not just the Advanced Bionics Neptune processor) – particularly any processor with an off-the-ear wearing option. In fact, I put my iPhone in the pocket and it fits nicely due to the stretch in the material. I’m thinking of ordering one for myself to hold my iPod or iPhone while running. My son that does not wear CI’s also wore a CI Wear shirt at the beach and filled the pockets in the arm with his beach “treasures”. I plan to buy one for him as well!
My wish-list for the CI shirt would be to have the shirt also available in a thinner material for everyday use as a pocket shirt under regular clothes for my daughter that wears her Neptune processors on a daily basis, and for sporting events other than the beach. Of course pink would be a nice color for all the girly girls out there.
Overall this is an excellent product and I am happy to have a well-designed, good-looking shirt that not only conceals my kids CI processors, but keeps them safely tucked away for sporting and outdoor activities. Thank you Ci Wear!
About the Author
Terrie Kellmeyer is a mother of three active children, two of which wear cochlear implants. Although she has never let her kids cochlear implants limit their sporting and beach activities, she is appreciative of having a new wearing option to hold their cochlear implants which allows her kids to focus on the important things- getting the basket or catching the wave, not worrying about losing a processor! For additional information she may be contacted at email@example.com.
VALENCIA, Calif., March 25, 2013 – Advanced Bionics (AB) announced today that it received approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for Neptune™, the world’s first and only swimmable, waterproof cochlear implant sound processor in Australia.
Read more here.
WATERPROOF NEPTUNE SOUND PROCESSOR FROM ADVANCED BIONICS
SURF AND SAIL FRIENDLY
WITH WARRANTY FOR USE IN OCEANS, LAKES AND RIVERS
Neptune, the industry’s first and only swimmable sound processor, is now fully warranted for use in oceans, lakes and rivers in addition to pools, baths and showers.
Advanced Bionics (AB), the global leader in cochlear implant technology and a company of the Sonova Group, announced today that Neptune™, the world’s first and only swimmable, waterproof sound processor, has passed rigorous internal testing and is now warranted for use in oceans, lakes and rivers. The award-winning Neptune processor has already been designated for use in pools, baths and showers. Neptune comes compatible with the AquaMic, the industry’s only waterproof headpiece and microphone, which passed the same rigorous testing. All Neptune processors and AquaMic headpieces qualify for this warranted use. Further fulfilling AB’s commitment to delivering the best in quality and durability, AB cochlear implant recipients can now enjoy the opportunity to hear in every water environment.
Recipients using other products on the market remove their processor when they swim or bathe, which means they miss out on important safety instructions and opportunities for language development because they are not hearing during those times. Parents of pediatric recipients using Neptune processors will appreciate the bonding and learning that comes with hearing during bath time, as well as the safety of hearing in pools, oceans, rivers and lakes.
“It’s important to understand the difference between water resistant and waterproof. With our fully submergible technology, recipients can swim under water giving them access to hearing during far more lifestyle activities than products that can only be splashed,” said Hansjuerg Emch, Group Vice President of the Sonova Medical Division within which AB resides. “We are proud to be the only company in the world to offer a truly waterproof sound processor for cochlear implant recipients. It’s incredibly rewarding when our recipients tell us how it changed their lives to hear the waves while surfing or a lifeguard’s whistle while swimming.”
Developed for all weather, terrain, ages and lifestyles, Neptune allows for hearing during robust water and sports activities thanks to its unique waterproof design. Now with the ability to use the Neptune processor in all water environments, recipients can enjoy the peace of mind from hearing while taking part in a wide variety of additional activities beyond swimming and bathing, such as boating, waterskiing, jet-skiing, rafting, fishing, parasailing, wind gliding, surfing and snorkeling.
“I have been going whitewater rafting with friends for the past five years. I always had to sit
directly behind someone and follow them to know how to paddle. This year, I wore one of my Neptune processors and was able to hear the river guide yell out the commands myself!” said AB recipient Steven Hecht. “Not only did I get splashed while going through the class four rapids, I jumped out of the boat into the rapids with my Neptune processor on the entire time. It really made a huge difference to be able to hear while rafting!”
Advanced Bionics was able to develop this industry innovation without compromising hearing performance. Neptune is fully compatible with the most advanced hearing technology, including ClearVoice™*, HiRes Fidelity 120™* and AutoSound™, which are also available from AB.* These sophisticated sound processing strategies are designed to deliver the best hearing performance in real-world environments where recipients would otherwise struggle, such as busy offices, loud playgrounds, music recitals and crowded restaurants.
For more information about Neptune, contact a local Advanced Bionics representative or
Press release from Advanced Bionics November 27, 2012
by Leslie Wyse
I had the opportunity to demo a pair of T-Comms for several days, which were loaned to me by Advanced Bionics for the purpose of this review. The T-Comm is Advanced Bionic’s newest accessory for the Neptune processor, which dramatically improves the ease of phone use with the Neptune. The T-Comm utilizes Advanced Bionic’s patented T-mic for natural microphone placement against the ear, and has a built-in T-coil which can be used with compatible phones or if you have a T-coil accessory such as a neck loop. The T-Comm also works with the older PSP body-worn processor. It is also compatible with all types of Harmony and Auria headpieces, both concave and flat.
How it works:
The T-Comm has a single 3-position switch: T-mic only, T-mic+T-coil split, and T-coil only. When the T-Comm is connected to the Neptune, the microphone in the headpiece is automatically disabled so that the only microphone is in the T-mic. The T-coil is built into the T-Comm which means no additional programming or attachments are required to use it, only the flip of the switch. Also included are formable retention wires in two lengths to allow for a more secure fit. The T-Comm requires a standard headpiece (UHP), UHP cable, and a T-mic, all of which I already had for my Harmony processors. The great news is that the T-Comm is ready to use straight out of the box; no special programming is required at the audiologist’s office.
The first thing I noticed was how super small, sleek, and lightweight the T-Comm was. Advanced Bionics really did a nice job with the design; it is modern looking and just feels nice to the touch. Assembly took but a few seconds. I will admit that I was skeptical that I would like wearing the T-Comm because my favorite feature of the Neptune is the freestyle design with nothing on the ear. However, I found the T-Comm to be very comfortable to wear, and so lightweight that I barely noticed it was there. The T-Comm is much thinner and a fraction of the size and weight of my Harmony processors with slim batteries, and therefore more comfortable to wear for long periods of time. It is small enough that it was nearly invisible when I wore my hair down, as you can see in the photos. I found that I did not need to wear the retention wire unless I was doing something really active, like running. Even without the wire it stayed on just as well, if not better, than my Harmonies while I cleaned the house and rolled on the floor to play with my baby. Now I just need to figure out how to train baby to not yank on the cables!
My favorite thing about the T-Comm is the simplicity of phone use with my Neptunes. By moving the microphone from the headpiece to the T-mic on the ear, the T-Comm eliminates the awkwardness of holding the phone up to the headpiece on the back of the head. Without the T-Comm, I had decent luck using my cell phone after a little practice (and bluetooth is possible with a cellphone using an adapter via the direct connect). But for my office phone I crafted a foam adapter out of the Neptune packaging to help guide the phone and block out background noise, essentially trying to achieve the same functionality that the T-mics with my Harmonies gave me. Obviously the T-Comm is a vast improvement! As promised, I was truly able to hold my phone up to my ear and have a perfectly clear conversation. The T-mic with T-Comm worked well with both my Blackberry cell phone and my work phone, though the sound quality was a bit better with my cell phone, just as it is with the T-mics on my Harmonies.
I have had such great success using the T-mic with the phone that I have not needed to use T-coil with my Harmonies, but I did test out the T-coil setting on the T-Comm for the sake of this review. With my Blackberry cell phone, the T-Mic sounded better than the T-coil setting because I heard some static on the line with the T-coil setting. However, the T-coil setting sounded great with no static on my office phone, so for me it would be a toss up which setting I would use at work. I did have to play with phone location a bit to find the sweet spot of the T-coil signal from the T-Comm. When using the T-coils with the phone, the user will want to use the “T-mic + T-coil” setting because the “T-coil only” setting prevents the user from hearing their own voice. The “T-coil only” setting would probably work best with neck loop accessories.
I noticed a small improvement in the quality of sound through my T-mics on the T-Comm versus sound through the headpiece microphone. Overall the microphones sound almost the same, but I think sound was just a bit louder and crisper through the T-mics, probably because of their location in the bowl of the ear. A small trade-off of having the microphone in the ear is that it was not quite as easy to hear sound behind me. Another small benefit of moving the microphone from the headpiece to the T-mic was that it eliminated the sound of my hair brushing up against the microphone that I occasionally hear when I wear the headpiece under my long hair. I will say that the sound quality through the T-Mic with the Neptune is exactly the same as the T-mics with the Harmonies.
Volume and program adjustments are still made with the Neptune Connect controller on the Neptune processor itself. The user has the option of leaving the Neptune Connect controller on or off with the T-Comm, but as always the controller must be removed prior to water use. There are 3 program slots on the Neptune. Currently I have two programs slots set up with the default 50/50 microphone setting, and the third slot I have reserved for “aux only” which disables all microphones and only allows in sound from the direct connect cable (i.e. music from my iPod). These programs all worked whether or not I used the T-comm. When I used the direct connect with T-Comm on either of my two 50/50 microphone programs, incoming sound was split between the T-mic and the direct connect. On a side note, the direct connect is one of my other favorite features of the Neptune – I’m always plugging in my iPhone, iPod, or bluetooth adapter for my phone and TV.
Some wearers might like that standard headphones can be used with the T-mics on the T-Comm, something that’s not practical when the microphone is in the headpiece. Personally I’d probably always use the direct connect for music, which eliminates the need for headphones. The direct connect option does require that the Neptune Connect controller be worn.
Another nice thing about the T-Comm is that it is powered by the Neptune processor itself and does not require its own battery. This means that I don’t have to charge up another accessory on my already very full power strip at my bedside.
Also note that the T-Comm is NOT waterproof and that the AquaMic cables and AquaMic headpiece will not work with The T-Comm. This might be something to consider when ordering cable lengths.
For bilateral users, the question arises whether to purchase one or two T-Comms, as one T-Comm is enough for the phone. I’m bilateral, with a dominant ear and my weaker ear is poor enough that it doesn’t yet discriminate speech, and doesn’t benefit from the improved microphone settings of the T-mic, so I will probably only purchase one. Bilateral users who plan to use any type of neck loop system will most certainly want two T-Comms.
The T-Comm is quick and easy to set up, but is probably not something that you would want to hook up only when the phone rings. The drawback to the T-Comm is that there is something on the ear, and one additional cable to the headpiece. It is small and lightweight enough that I didn’t notice the T-Comm and additional cable during all-day use, but it is still not quite as comfortable having nothing on the ear at all. While the T-Comm accessory would be secure with the retention wire when I’m doing really active things like running, skiing, and mountain biking, I probably wouldn’t wear it then simply because I don’t normally use my cell phone during these activities. I picture myself wearing the T-Comms to work and on days when I plan to make a lot of phone calls. I’ll probably still want to go “freestyle” without the T-Comm on weekends and my active days, as there really is nothing as nice as nothing on the ear.
Advanced Bionics really scored with this new accessory for the Neptune. With the T-Comm, the Neptune really becomes the most versatile cochlear implant processor on the market. I already loved my Neptunes before I tried this accessory, but now I know I’ll love them even more. I used to mostly wear my Harmonies to work, and my Neptunes on nights and weekends, but with this T-Comm accessory I think I might just move the Neptunes up to the full-time slot. I will be placing my order for a T-Comm accessory tomorrow.
Leslie Wyse was bilaterally activated on Sept 1, 2012, and wears both the Harmony and Neptune processors from Advanced Bionics. She was born deaf in her left ear, and had mild/moderate loss in her right ear that rapidly declined to complete deafness at age 35. She lives in Vail, Colorado with her husband and infant daughter, works as a structural engineer, and enjoys a very active mountain lifestyle.