Getting the Best out of your Implant

Introduction

It’s a noisy world and for many implant users a quite modest amount of background noise will dramatically reduce their ability to pick out speech. Modern speech processors have built in features to combat this but the best solution is to reduce the amount of background noise that is fed into the processor in the first place. This can be achieved by the use of Assistive Devices. You will need to seek advice from your CI Centre on the current availability of any specific device for use with your particular model of implant.

T Coils

All modern speech processors have built in T coils which either operate automatically or can be switched on by a programme change on the processor. This is useful when in public buildings, banks, ticket offices, theatres, churches etc where this facility is available and is displayed on “T Loop” notice. In this scenario the sound is fed directly into the processor and by -passes the surrounding noise in the building.

T coil usage is helpful with many modern landline phones. When using a mobile phone, manufacturers have connecting cables to again by- pass the surrounding noise. Your CI centre and/or the manufacturer will be able to advise on these features. Some manufacturers now have Bluetooth enabled processors which avoid using cables with a mobile phone.

Home loop systems

T coil usage is also very helpful in conjunction with Loop systems for the home. These Loops can either be mobile or built into one’s lounge and connected to the TV. Wearing a ‘necklace ‘coil combined either with a pad in one’s chair or fixed loop wiring around the room, enables the TV sound to be beamed direct into the processor, again by-passing environmental noise.

External microphones

Most CI manufacturers can supply an external microphone and cable which can be plugged into the auxiliary input socket on your speech processor to supplement or replace the signal from the built-in microphone. This can be very effective in the right circumstances such as in a car or restaurants. Clipping the microphone to one’s partners clothing so that it is as close as possible to their lips can produce a good result.

Radio-microphones

These are known as FM systems where again the objective is getting the microphone as close as possible to the speaker’s lips but then using a wireless connection to beam directly into an FM adaptor on the processor. These systems can be very effective but they are expensive. They are used widely by school children and students at college where the speaker can be a long distance away.

Wireless Technology

Our sound processors are brilliant pieces of technology yet one’s hearing perception can be improved by the use of wireless technology which features in many items of ancillary equipment now offered by the manufacturers. Wireless technology now features in Bluetooth equipment to help us with listening to the TV, using smart mobile phones, stereo hi-fi systems and MP3 systems.

Advanced Bionics (AB) offer from Phonak the ComPilot which can be used in all of the situations above. This is a necklace item which is wirelessly connected and is very beneficial when watching TV where, in conjunction with its base station, which is plugged into the TV, you can set one’s personal volume settings without disrupting other members of your family who might be watching at the same time.
The huge advantage of this setup is that the sound channel of the TV is beamed directly into your processor and thus avoid all forms of external interference and possible loss of quality perception. The ComPilot can be paired not only with the TV base station but also your smart mobile phone and stereo system all at the same time so that one can choose which sound input one wishes, one at a time.
A small note of caution must be exercised is that some TVs switch off the sound when the base station is plugged into an external audio socket at the back of the television. You should  check with  the manufacturer of the your TV quoting model and serial number see whether this is applicable in your own instance. If you live alone or watch TV on your own then this is not a problem but it is if you watch TV with other members of your family.
All this bother can be avided by usiing a Scart connector to plug in to the TV.

Cochlear have their own Wireless TV streamer unit which gives the same performance and features as above for watching TV . The unit  and plugs directly into your TV or audio device. The TV streamer will stream stereo sound through to your sound processors from up to 7 metres. There are separate assistive listening devices offered by Cochlear with regard to mobile phone connection and stereo systems.

MED-EL do not have any units specific to themselves.. A ‘standard’ Bluetooth neckloop can be sourced  and a very modern TV will/should have Bluetooth enabled within it so it can beam directly into the neckloop. For older TVs one needs to secure a Bluetooth transmitter unit which can be plugged into the back of the TV. MED-EL recommend the Artone 3 Max Bluetooth headset and if your TV is not Bluetooth compatible you will need an adaptor, the Artone TVB to plug into the TV..

Unfortunately none of these items described here are available on the NHS but can be purchased from the websites listed below.

The Phonak ComPilot and TV base unit
http://www.connevans.co.uk/catalogue/4175240/Phonak-Wireless-Hearing-Aid-Accessories

Cochlear TV Streamer
http://www.cochlear.com/wps/wcm/connect/uk/home/store
Artone 3 MAX neckloop:

http://www.medel.com/blog/review-of-the-artone-3-max-bluetooth-neckloop/

http://www.gda.org.uk/products/artone-tv-transmitter.aspx

The latest news is that for Advanced Bionics Naida Q90 and Cochlear 7 systems , the TV streamer listed above are now a free issue with the processor.

Conclusion

CI accessories can be very useful but one has to discover which is the best arrangement for you. The CI centre can advise you and also the Help facilities offered by the manufacturers. All of these aids can be obtained from the Shop at Action for Hearing Loss and Connevans. Always try before you buy.