Sports

All of the cochlear implants we offer are suitable for wearing during sports, but you might need to think about some slight adjustments or adaptations to how you wear them to make sure they stay in place. Unlike hearing aids, most cochlear implants don’t have ear moulds. While this is a good thing, as it’s more comfortable and there is less chance of ear infections, the ear mould fitting is something which helps hearing aids stay in place when you are running around. You could, of course, choose to take your speech processor off when you are exercising or playing sports, but we would much rather you didn’t, because we want you to be able to access the experience fully, including the sounds around you.

All of the devices are at least as waterproof or often more waterproof than your current hearing aids. There are rarely problems with sweat and moisture from exercise damaging the equipment, and the equipment comes with an electric dehumidifier so that you can dry out the equipment completely overnight. Some people like to use a headband or sweatband to keep the processor dry, and also to cut down on wind noise against the microphones.

The links below show some of the sports adaptations that are available for each of the three manufacturers:

Advanced Bionics Cochlear MED-EL
Naida CI blackNaida Q90 Neptune_black Neptune Nucleus 7 CP1000    Kanso SONNET blackSONNET RONDO 2
Aqua case armband. The Neptune has several wearing options including a harness, armband and headband.

Nucleus 7 has several wearing options including Snugfit, Hugfit and clothing clip

The Kanso has a sports band that can be worn for sports (in additional to the small hairclip that should be worn all the time)

 

MED-EL have a sports band that is designed to be worn with the RONDO 2.

For most sports there are no additional considerations or recommendations for participating as a cochlear implant user. However, for a few sports there are other aspects to consider:

Cycling

We hope that with your cochlear implant you will feel much safer on your bike if you can hear other road traffic around you. We would always recommend wearing a cycling helmet when you are riding. Some people have found it easiest to get a helmet which has elastic pieces between the protective parts rather than a solid helmet, so there’s enough space to accommodate the processor comfortably and the coil can be slipped under the helmet to give you access to sound. There are lots of different styles (and different price ranges), but here is one example:

Click here to view a foldable helmet

Other find that wearing their normal cycle helmet is fine, and they just wear a thin cap or headband underneath it to help the helmet slip over the equipment, and to help keep the coil in place.

Click here to view a cycling headband

Horse riding, Go-karting, BMX and Motocross

For sports where a hard helmet is required, most of our cochlear implant users find that they can accommodate their processor underneath their existing helmet without any specific changes being made, as there is often enough space within the flexible padding inside the helmet for the processor to fit.

Some people find wearing a thin cap or headband keeps the processor in place so it doesn’t get pushed off when you are putting the helmet on or taking it off. This would be just one example:

Click here to view a helmet liner

Skiing and skating, hockey and cricket, judo and similar martial arts

Some sports, by their very nature, mean that you might be more likely to fall over or get a bump to the head. There’s nothing about having a cochlear implant that would make having a head injury more likely for you – your skull is just as tough as anyone else’s! – but if by very bad luck you had a blow to the head exactly where the implant package sits on top of the skull (just behind and above your ear), there is the chance that it could damage the internal part and it would need replacing. It would be extremely unlikely, but we would always suggest being better safe than sorry and wearing some padded head protection for these sports.

Two popular kinds are the reinforced cap and the soft padded scrum cap. Here are some examples:

Click here to view a padded scrum cap

Click here to view a ventilated head guard

Water sports

All the processors are water resistant, and can be used for sports like boating. Some manufacturers recommend that in wet areas, the processors are likely to work better with rechargeable batteries rather than zinc air batteries, as there is less chance of water getting in to the processor itself. It would be recommended to use the dehumidifier that comes with the equipment overnight after they have been used in wet conditions.

For sports which are in the water, such as kayaking and canoeing, surfing and bodyboarding, and water polo, we would recommend you have a look at the swimming options for each of the manufacturers (Swimming Options).

Beach sports, such as beach volley ball, are fine with the processors, though we would recommend either wearing a cap or having a lanyard attachment to the clothes or the hair to prevent the processor falling off and getting lost in the sand.

Diving

For scuba diving and open water diving, you would need to use the appropriate swimming equipment from each of the manufacturers. Each of the manufacturers has slightly different recommendations for the depth to which they recommend processor use. Please contact AIS or the manufacturers for more information.

Deep sea diving is not recommended with a cochlear implant at this stage, as the intense pressure might cause damage to the internal device.

It would be hard to manage the equipment appropriately to stay in place for high diving or cliff diving, and if these are sports you participate in regularly, we would recommend contacting the manufacturers directly for advice about your specific requirements:

Advanced Bionics Cochlear MED-EL
info.UK@AdvancedBionics.com uksupport@cochlear.com clinicalsupport@medel.co.uk

Parachuting and bungee jumping

Parachuting would not be recommended in the months immediately after you have your surgery, but longer term, people can and do enjoy parachuting with cochlear implants. It would be especially important to be sure that the equipment is well attached and doesn’t fall off, and the wind noise against the microphones might be unpleasant unless a cap or balaclava is worn. We would suggest that if parachuting or skydiving are something you are likely to do frequently, you should contact the individual manufacturers directly for guidelines of specific heights of jump and precautions.

Advanced Bionics Cochlear MED-EL
info.UK@AdvancedBionics.com uksupport@cochlear.com clinicalsupport@medel.co.uk

Video of a cochlear implant users skydiving experience.

There is mixed information about the safety of bungee jumping with cochlear implants, and the manufacturers are able to give more information over time as their equipment designs evolve. Certainly at this point, it would be hard to manage the equipment so that it didn’t fall off and get lost. In addition, concerns have been raised that the speed and pressure changes in the jump might dislodge parts of the internal device, and for this reason bungee jumping is not recommended. If it is a sport you participate in regularly, you might wish to contact the manufacturers directly (details above) to check what their current advice for each device would be.

Contact sports (boxing, rugby, kickboxing, wrestling)

For sports where there is a very strong likelihood of having a blow to the head, there is an increased risk of hitting and damaging the internal device which would then need another operation to replace it. For this reason, the manufacturers strongly recommend not taking part in these sports, and the warranty for the internal device would not normally cover damage from this kind of sport.

Shooting

Target shooting and game shooting are both fine with a cochlear implant. As your individual map is set to your preference in terms of how loud the loudest sounds presented are, the sound of the gun will not be heard as painfully loud. (If you have an EAS hybrid device, you would still need to wear ear protection for your low frequency acoustic hearing, but the mid- and higher frequency cochlear implant hearing would be unaffected by loud sounds).