Johns Hopkins researchers have come up with a new approach to aural rehabilitation for people who have recently received a cochlear implant. (It’s also useful after getting a hearing aid.) All three of the FDA approved cochlear implant companies offer online rehab, and some cochlear implant centers offer one-on-one rehab for new c.i. users. But consumers can encounter problems with both. Many implant centers have limited capacity for adult implant recipients. Their speech language pathologists are trained primarily to work with children and even for those few adults who are admitted to a rehab program, the result can be hit and miss. Insurance may not pay for it, and work with a speech language pathologist is expensive.
The online programs can be very useful, but some of them are available only on P.C.’s, and many of us Mac users are unable to access the programs. Now three undergraduates at Hopkins have developed an interactive program that can be used by Mac users — IPad users to be specific.
Here’s part of the Hopkins press release: “Three undergraduate students from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University have come up with an iPad app called Speech Banana that expands access to auditory training, giving deaf adults with cochlear implants the ability to practice on their own.” The speech banana, as many of you probably know, is the banana shaped segment on an audiogram where most of the speech sounds lie. If your hearing falls below the speech banana, you will miss things that are said at that frequency. That’s why we have so much trouble distinguishing similar sounds — “mesh” from “mess” for instance — and especially in noise.
You can read the full text at the Hopkins website: App Developed by Johns Hopkins undergrads gives cochlear implant users access to auditory training.”
This is in beta testing, on a small group of people, but it’s a promising addition to the auditory rehab offerings.
Meanwhile there are always the old staples of listening to a recorded book and then checking yourself against the written text, having a friend read to you and then seeing how much you pick up. The more you listen, the more you learn. But formal rehab programs are helpful, especially with cochlear implants where the input to the brain originates as a digital signal. This is a welcome step in the right direction. It’s also a good reminder of the importance of auditory rehabilitation after a cochlear implant.