Swimming and Hearing-Assistive Technology
With the summer months come higher temperatures and the desire for cool activities. For families of children with hearing loss, the idea of swimming and splashing around may be met with apprehension when thinking of hearing-assistive technology protection.
Relatively recent advancements in hearing equipment accessories have made swimming a possibility for children who are deaf and hard of hearing. It is important to fully research your child’s cochlear implants or hearing aids to determine what water activities are safe for their equipment.
In the past, children wearing cochlear implants would have to remove their devices before submerging in water to avoid damaging the equipment. Fortunately there are now multiple cochlear implant brands that provide waterproof options for swimming and other water activities.
In most cases, the cochlear implant processor is encased in a waterproof accessory that prevents moisture from affecting the technology. The regular coil is swapped out for a water-safe version that is OK to be underwater.
Unfortunately, most hearing aids are not waterproof, and there are few options to ensure technology safety while swimming. Typically, hearing aids are advertised as water-resistant, which means that minimal moisture (such as rain or sweat) is allowable but full submersion during swimming or other water sports will damage the equipment.
While removing hearing aids before swimming may be a necessity, you will want to take additional steps to ensure the integrity of your technology. Bringing a waterproof hearing aid case to store your devices in is important to protect them from unforeseen splashes, and investing in a drying kit is recommended in case the hearing aids do take on significant water. These accessories will help draw moisture out of the hearing aids and work to maintain sound quality and device functionality.
Keeping Equipment on During Water Activities
Another challenge with water activities can be simply keeping listening devices on the head of your child.
Water damage is always a threat, but losing your technology completely can be far more costly.
A water-specific headband or swim cap can be worn over hearing-assistive technology to ensure that devices stay on during water activities. Additionally, clips can be connected to equipment so that devices that fall off the ears will stay within arm’s reach.
While protecting your technology is important, keeping your child safe is your top priority. If your child with hearing loss plans to partake in swimming or other water activities, be sure you have a plan in place ahead of time.
Whether they have to use a protective aqua kit or remove their devices completely, listening and communicating may become strained while they are in the water. You will want to be sure your child is comfortable in the water and has help nearby in case they need assistance.
Research Your Options
It is always a great idea to consult with your audiologist about what options are available for your child. Those with hearing loss can participate in swimming and other water sports, and finding the best waterproof equipment will help your family have more enjoyable experiences for these activities.
CCHAT has several students, current and alumni, who are competitive swimmers, some on the national level (including Elizabeth Cocker, pictured). Feel free to use our contact page to ask specific questions regarding water activities and steps that can be taken to protect technology.