Monday, June 29, 2009

Swimming with a Cochlear Implant

William LOVES water! A lot of children do. As the parent of a very young CI user, it is hard to determine how to balance out this love of water, giving them time to play "normally," and yet not hinder their listening skills or speech development. I am very happy to say we have found a solution that works well for our family!
We watched the video on YouTube posted by "alexswims."
Very interesting! His parents really put a lot of thought and effort into finding a way for him to be able to hear and swim at the same time. It probably took them a lot of time (and money) to experiment with different things until they found something that worked. They emphasized a couple of mistakes to avoid (like which type of battery to use and not to vacuum seal the bag). My guess is, they might have learned these things from trial and error. Anyway, we checked into buying a food saver V2490. We might still buy one, but at this time, that didn't make the most sense to us. The cheapest one we found had a starting bid of $55, plus shipping and handling, plus the cost of the roll. Total cost was around $95. This isn't bad, when you consider the cost of the processor itself, but we weren't sure if William would even wear this. When you're dealing with an 8-10 year old that can reason cognitively, that's one thing, but a 2 year old can be a whole different story. We chose a much cheaper route.
I ordered Lok Saks from The small 5x4" size are $6.39 for a pack of 3. Add s/h and we ended up paying only $2.79 per sack. The sacks are reusable, so we have the sack we use, plus many backups (we ordered 9). I also ordered an adult size logo swim cap (it was the cheapest) from Swim Outlet. With s/h, my total was only $9.94. The best part is: it worked great!!! And William loved it! We did it a little differently than Alex's parents. Alex wore his entire processor under the swim cap, which would be more reasonable for diving to the bottom of the pool. We put William's magnet under the swim cap, but left the processor on the outside so we could see the blinking light.

Since he does not communicate to us all of the time that his processor is off or not working, this helped us to make sure that the magnet stayed in place during his play (which it did the entire time)!
William is as active as any other 2 year old and is always wild in the pool. His hair was wet, but the processor was completely dry when he was done! And he had a great time playing in the pool and on the slide!

We thought that this would be a temporary fix and we would switch to the Food Saver when he is older and wants to dive and swim under water for long periods of time, but the Lok Sak bags have passed submergence, thrash and pull tests conducted by the U.S. Navy Experimental Diving Unit Team and have been certified waterproof to 60 meters by Scuba Schools International, formerly NASDS. They work so well that I can see us continuing to use these bags even as he gets older. They are convenient and portable (I carry 2 extra ones in his extra battery bag, just in case we're near water sometime), they work incredibly well, and they are extremely cost effective! What a great combination!

This was so easy to do and stayed on so well, I'm thinking Cochlear should be able to come up with a waterproof unit or something soon. I remember when Bryce was little he used to have terrible ear infections, but he loved the water. We had some special (expensive) ear plugs made for him at the ENT and they came with an ear band that went around his head to help keep them in.
(sample pictures of the Ear Band It)
I'm sure Cochear could come up with something similar that would hold the magnets on and have a sealable bag sewn into it for the processors. All it takes is some parents writing or calling to let them know how much we want it (HINT, HINT, HINT).
Thanks to Alex's parents for the great idea (and the trial and error)! I'm so glad to not have to sacrifice one benefit for another!

"Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments." Psalm 119:66


  1. So great! I'm glad you tried it first, hahaha!

    I've been thinking about doing this... definitely for next summer though. Lucas is still 1, and not walking, so his water exposure is pretty limited. But, I'm thinking next summer, when he can walk and talk more, it will be a necessity.

    Great post!

  2. hey... great article! what's the name of this product? i'm going camping in a few weeks with my campers and i'd love to bring my CI along with me.. but i'm too afraid of losing it and getting it wet when hiking, etc.. it would be great help to me if you could let me know. i'm a 19 year old college student.


  3. Very cute baby


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