Please don’t feel put off by this blow-by-blow account of what can be tricky with the different speech processors! Our experience is generally that if you can manage hearing aids without help, we think you’ll be able to manage your speech processor without help, though it may take a little while to get the knack.
When the time comes to finalise your choice, you’ll have the opportunity to try all of the processors hands-on, and to see for yourself which design is easiest for you to manage.
Advanced Bionics Naída
The rechargeable battery slides on to the bottom of the processor, and slides on to the recharging unit – no twisting or pushing. Attaching the battery turns the processor on straight away, so no on-off switch is required.
There is a switch on the top of the processor to change the programme setting. The switch is raised and quite large, so most people find it ok to operate as long as they can comfortably reach up behind their ear. The Naida processor resets itself to Programme 1 when the battery is replaced, so if you need to change to one of the other programmes and you can’t do it while the processor is in place, you’ll need to use the ComPilot as a remote control.
The t-mic microphone at the front of the processor can need replacing, and it can be quite fiddly to change it. There is a very small pin holding the clear plastic microphone hook in place which you will need to use a special tool to push out, and then line up and push back in to secure the new microphone. If you needed help to do this and there isn’t anyone around, you can always come in to the implant centre for the daily Repairs session.
There is a small microphone cover which needs to be changed at least every 3 months to keep the microphone clear from dirt and moisture. It can be quite fiddly to change if you don’t have much feeling or control in your fingers. We would be very happy to help you change your microphone covers here in the Centre if you would prefer, and you can arrange to come in on one of our daily Repairs sessions when it is convenient for you.
Advanced Bionics Neptune
The Neptune is a completely waterproof speech processor, and is designed with children in mind. It has a simple design and some great features which make it quite tamper-proof to children – but that can sometimes make it a bit tamper-proof for adults too! It can be a good choice for people who can’t manage a speech processor behind their ear, as it is worn clipped to clothing, or in a special armband, or clipped to the headrest of a wheelchair. The microphone is in the headpiece. Some of our patients with Cerebral Palsy and similar conditions have sometimes found it hard not to knock the coil off against the head support of their wheelchairs. If this is likely to be a consideration for you or for your child, the surgeon can discuss with you orienting the magnet slightly differently in surgery (perhaps further forward) to help keep it in place.
The Neptune processor runs on a rechargeable AAA battery, which you will need to be able to pop in a recharger unit like this one overnight.
The battery compartment has a waterproof seal around the inside rim which, when it is closed, creates a suction seal. It can be quite tricky to get the battery compartment cover off, and AB have produced guidelines about using a “banana peel” action, holding the processor securely in one hand and pulling down and out with the thumb of your other hand. For some people with sore thumb joints or without a strong grip, this can be tricky.
The Neptune turns on with quite a large button on the side which you need to press firmly and hold for a few seconds, and some patients have found it easier to use the flat end of a pencil.
To change the programmes on a Neptune, you will need to attach a Connect. To do this, you will need to unclip the top cover of the Neptune processor – there is a little slot to slide a thumbnail under, and then pull/prise the top off. This can be quite stiff, and AB recommend that you don’t use any kind of tool to do this in case you accidentally damage the electronics underneath. To attach the Connect, you hold in a catch on the side with your thumb and align each end with the processor before snapping the two parts together. There are two small dials on the top (volume and sensitivity) which you will need to adjust using a small lateral thumb movement on the edge of each dial.
The switch to change the programmes is on the side of the Connect and is not easy to operate if you don’t have good dexterity and good eyesight. The switch itself is very small, the different programme slots aren’t numbered, and it can take quite a bit of practice to get the switch in the right position. We would suggest that if you have difficulties with your hands or your eyesight, you will need someone to help you with this if you choose a Neptune.
Cochlear Nucleus 7 (CP1000)
The Nucleus 7 rechargeable battery twists in to place on the processor. You will need to line up the little lugs in the battery compartment at a quarter turn to the base of the processor, and then gently twist the battery straight.
Once they have the knack of lining up the battery and the processor, most people are able to manage this with ease.
Attaching the battery turns the processor on straight away, so there’s no on-off switch. There is one button on the top of the processor to change the program and to activate the telecoil if you have it. Most people prefer to change the program using the remote control – this has reasonable size buttons and a small LCD screen to show you which program and volume setting you are on.
The Nucleus 7 has a microphone cover on the top of the processor which keeps the microphones clear of dust and moisture, but it need replacing every 3 months. To change the microphone cover, you pull the cable out of the processor and then lift the top panel of the processor off. You then replace the panel with a new one and push the cable back into place. Most people manage to change the microphone covers at home but we’d be happy to help you here at the implant centre if you come in for one of our daily Repairs sessions.
The SONNET processor is a popular choice for people who have manual dexterity difficulties because it has no switches on the speech processor.
We are just about to switch over from using zinc air batteries to using rechargeable batteries with the SONNET. The rechargeable batteries clip into the recharging unit overnight. To get to the battery compartment off the processor, you hold the processor in one hand and pull the battery cover off with the other. The battery compartment is quite smooth and slippery, and some of our patients who don’t have great grip can find this a bit tricky to start with. Some patients have found that using a rubber washing up glove helps them to get enough grip to pull to battery compartment cover off more easily! Once the cover is off, the rechargeable battery clips into the bottom of the processor at a slight angle and you push the cover back on again until it clicks shut. Closing the battery compartment turns the processor on, so there is no on-off switch.
To change the programmes, or activate the telecoil settings, you use the FineTuner remote control. This has raised buttons which some patients with visual difficulties prefer as well as those who find hand and finger movements harder.
The SONNET microphone cover will need replacing at least once every 3 months to keep the microphones clear from dirt and moisture. The cover is a curved plastic piece which fits over the top of the processor. It comes with a very small pin which you have to use a special tool to push out, and then pull off the old microphone cover. This can be difficult to do if you have visual difficulties or hand mobility problems. We would be happy to help you to change this in appointments or if you arrange to come in for a daily Repairs session.
MED-El RONDO 2
The RONDO is a one-piece speech processor, where the entire unit stays in place on the magnet site, and there is nothing behind the ear or clipped to the clothes. The RONDO 2 itself is slightly bigger and heavier than the headpiece for the other processors, and because of this it is less popular with our more active patients, as they find it falls off more often. For our patients who are less active, or who use a wheelchair, this is not usually an issue. We offer the RONDO 2 for adults.
The RONDO 2 uses a special in-built rechargeable battery. To charge the battery you must place the whole processor onto a charging pad that plugs into the wall overnight. This is quite good for those who struggle with their hands as there are no batteries to change each day.
The processor switches on using the button on the top of the processor. This is completely smooth so can be difficult to see if you have visual difficulties. to change programs and volume you need to use the finetuner remote control (the same as the sonnet, above).