Monday, April 1, 2013

How the CI works

Many of you have been wondering how the CI works. How Riley will hear? What are the risks, the milestones, the possibilites and more? As I am no expert on the topic, I sure have done my share of research. I am contantly on the internet looking at youtube video and reading other mom's blogs of children that have implants. I will tell you that it is so uplifting to see (and hear these children).

Nucleus cochlear implant system

The Nucleus® cochlear implant system works in the following manner:

  1. Sounds are picked up by the small, directional microphone located in the ear level processor.
  2. The speech processor filters, analyzes and digitizes the sound into coded signals.
  3. The coded signals are sent from the speech processor to the transmitting coil.
  4. The transmitting coil sends the coded signals as FM radio signals to the cochlear implant under the skin.
  5. The cochlear implant delivers the appropriate electrical energy to the array of electrodes which has been inserted into the cochlea.
  6. The electrodes along the array stimulate the remaining auditory nerve fibers in the cochlea.
  7. The resulting electrical sound information is sent through the auditory system to the brain for interpretation.
Riley will have two processors that she will wear at all waking times. She won't be able to hear when she has them off. The surgery will take away all of her natural hearing, leaving her to rely solely on the implants. Which I'm sure in her teen years that will come in handy for her:)

The surgery and the implants do not guarantee success. She will be able to hear speech, but developing speech is a different story. Riley will not hear like you and I, she will not know what it is like to hear like us. Her hearing will be more digital, more like a robot. She's going to get out of it what we put into it. We will kind of have to teach her to listen, to understand, and put sounds with words.

We have chosen to do Audio Verbal Therapy with her for her speech pathology. This approach to learn is a parent approach, and will teach Riley to communicate through conversation and natural sounds in her environment. AVT is learning to listen, not just hear. It is listening through VERBAL communication and not through visual communication, meaning sign language. As much as teaching your infant sign language is a good thing, it is not for what we are trying to accomplish with Riley. Josh and I do not know sign language, we know verbal english. We want Riley to be in our world. It's like if I were to go live in a foreing country that spoke another language, I would be lost. This AVT is a parent being the teacher approach and gets us involved in every step of the way.
 The CI outcome is really based on what we do and how Riley responds. Since she will be so young she won't know any different and will respond like any child learning to speak. We will continue to work with her providing everyday conversation, and our goal is for her to speak and be in mainstream preschool and so on.
Some people say to me " you guys are so awesome", " I am proud of you", "you are such good parents" or we are an inspiration on how aggressive we have been. My question is to them....Should it be any other way? What do other parents do? There is nothing Josh and I wouldn't do for this little girl and the power of 3 is how we will be.

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