Starting the Miracle of Sound
The day of your initial activation will be life-changing. Typically scheduled four weeks after implantation, your anticipation of this important day may be filled with hope, excitement, and varied expectations. When your cochlear implant system is first activated, the objective is simple: to find a comfortable volume level across the frequency (pitch) spectrum so that your first sound program or “map” can be set. If you can tell the difference between a loud or soft sound at your first activation appointment, the day has been a success and you’re on your way to hearing your best.
“One of my most memorable hearing experiences with my cochlear implants was hearing my daughter’s voice during the first activation appointment.”
— Maria Anderson, implanted at age 52, bilaterally implanted at age 54
What to Expect on Your Big Day
Your journey to hearing will undoubtedly be full of cherished moments, including your activation appointment, which is typically scheduled two to four weeks after your surgery. It may feel like an eternity between the two dates, but this gives you time to heal as you prepare for your new beginning.
What you actually hear once your cochlear implant is turned on depends on many factors. The details of your hearing potential depend on:
- Age when hearing loss began
- Length of hearing loss
- Age at implantation
- Your expectations
Each person is unique and everyone responds differently to what they hear first. With time and practice, you will hear increasingly more details in the sound around you.
Who Should Attend the Activation Appointment
Although you can bring people to your first programming appointment, you should consider having only your closest immediate family member or friend attending. Your audiologist may also have some input on who they recommend you bring, if anyone.
Adult or teen recipients will need to focus on listening and working with your audiologist. It can be tiring and can take an hour or more. It is difficult to predict how much you’ll understand right away. One or two people should be all the support you need.
Learning to Hear with Cochlear Implants
As you adjust to your new cochlear implant, sound will begin to transform over the first days, weeks, and months. This is a natural occurrence that coincides with changes in the auditory system as your nerves and brain acquaint or reacquaint with sound.
It takes time and practice to hear your best with cochlear implants. It’s important to remember that it is a process, not an instant fix. Just as those with normal hearing had to learn to hear, you or your child will need to practice to learn to hear. We will suggest an appropriate rehabilitation program for you.
Things to Know Before You Go
Before you leave your audiologist’s office, be sure you understand how to put on and use your cochlear implant system’s processor and batteries. Remember, sound may or may not be pleasant as you start out with your cochlear implant, but regardless, it is important to keep the sound processor on during most waking hours.
How Hearing Improves
As you embark on your journey to hearing, it’s helpful to know the three aspects that affect hearing development:
- Listening experiences
It’s important to remember to be patient while your auditory system develops. The speed of progress varies from one recipient to the next and depends on practice and repeated experiences for adults. In addition to devising a rehabilitation plan with your audiologist, you can also utilize The Listening Room™, an interactive website for parents and professionals that provides free ideas, materials and support to promote active listening and language stimulation.
Your Next Mapping Appointments
You will have several appointments over the next few months to make adjustments and evaluate your progress. The information you provide about your experiences with sounds and different programs will help the audiologist optimize your hearing.