CI2016 – Amy Ng on Cochlear Implant Rehabilitation

CI2016 – Amy Ng on Cochlear Implant Rehabilitation


Sitting next to me is one of the
speakers at CI2016, Amy Ng. Thank you so much for joining me today. Now, you’ll
be speaking about rehabilitation in adults with CI. Yes, and we work with
adults at Sunnybrook. And many of them are late-deafened and they, you know,
maybe had decades without hearing. And once they get a cochlear implant, they
need a little training to to make use of the new sounds. So what are some of the
things that you tell them? When I think the most important thing for them to
realize is that when they get more sounds than they’ve had with your
hearing aid, there is a time that they have to adapt to it. And they have to –
it’s almost like a leap of faith that you will get used to it. It sounds
different, there’s more information, there’s a little lag time between when
your brain starts using all that information but you will be able to do
it and I think for a lot of our adults just having some support and some
guidance on what to do to help themselves get there faster is a big
relief for them. I imagine it’s somewhat of an emotional journey as well. Well, one of my favorite things about
working with cochlear implant patients is that you really develop a long-term
relationship with them. You know for the Pediatrics the audiologists watch their
children grow up, and in I watch my patients grow old, and we grow old together, so I
know about their families and their kids and that’s one of my favorite things
about being a part of the cochlear implant program, is the relationship, long-term relationship you develop with
your patients. So what about following rehabilitation, even in experienced CI
users? Do they go back to the specialist for a certain sort of tune-ups? For an
adult, their their follow-up follows a pattern based on their hearing history.
So they come to see me at Sunnybrook at the one-month mark and I
assess them. I see what they’re able to pick up what they’re able to understand
and what type of exercises can bring them to the next level of comprehension. How important is rehabilitation to the success of the CI? I think rehabilitation is very important and
it’s critical for the success of a CI because we’re training the brain the
ear is not just out there attached to nothing, it’s attached to a brain, and the
brain is sort of like the computer. It has to receive the input of the cochlear
implant, but it has to make sense of it. To improve that is something that
helps that learning curve increase and you get to your potential faster and I
think for adults that that part some times isn’t always available for an
adult. For pediatrics, they’re always trying to have a goal where they learn
language, so it’s very crystal clear with what the rehabilitation for a
child is. For an adult, sometimes the goals are very different. Sometimes they,
you know, want to be able to use the telephone. They want to be able to experience music
again, they want to be able to hear their grandchildren. You know, those goals are
because some of them quite frankly know five languages already, so those things
are accomplished. The goals have to be, you know, part of the rehabilitation of
an adult. If you’re speaking with someone who is considering a cochlear implant,
what is the one piece of advice you would share with them? I would have to say that
be ready to experience a lot of different sounds that you maybe perhaps
didn’t realize existed. And just be patient with yourself and be ready to
work and look for meaning in the sounds that you do hear because
the brain is the most comprehensive and amazing part of the whole a deal. And it
is flexible. It is plastic. You can teach it. And we have people who maybe lost
the high pitches many years ago when they were working in construction, perhaps, and then you
know, over the years, they went deaf and they haven’t heard the high pitches for
maybe twenty-thirty years. And then you get them a cochlear implant. Sometimes
especially high pitches can be very overwhelming because the brain doesn’t
just stay plastic waiting for the next sound to come that doesn’t come for
decades. It uses that brain power for something else. For vision, for feeling,
for you know, lip reading. All sorts of things. So once you get the sound in, you
also have to start getting the sounds processed in new real estate that in the
brain that might have been taken over by other functions. Fascinating. Well, thank
you so much for joining us and best of luck with your speech and the rest of CI2016! Same to you.

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