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Working with Cochlear Implant

Discussion in 'Audiology [ Au.D ]' started by BrianaGrace17, Mar 28, 2012.

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  1. BrianaGrace17

    BrianaGrace17

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    Hello everyone!

    I've been gone for awhile, but I'm back! After a lot of thinking I just can't decide between speech path and audiology but I guess I'll figure it out eventually. I'm really interested in working with cochlear implant candidates.

    Does anyone know what kind of things professionals do with CIs? Do you speech paths or AuDs work more with them?
  2. Odderee

    Odderee

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    Hi!
    In my undergrad experience and personal experience with people who have been implanted, Audiologist and SLPs do very different things concerning CI's.

    An Audiologist is part of a team of people who come together to aid a person in obtaining a CI. The audiologist is in the surgical room usually when their client is being implanted and they will also map the CI a month after implantation. CI's do not just take one mapping in their lifetime, it is a constant thing. Just like hearing aids might need to be adjusted, a CI takes some tinkering every now and then.

    SLPs are there in order to help the client understand what they're hearing and facilitate speech.

    An SLP is more likely to see a small handfull of implanted clients on a more frequent timeline whereas an AuD will probably see more CI clients but not as frequently.

    Hope this helps. :)
  3. Kitska

    Kitska

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    Are you looking for pediatric or adult experience?

    A CI recipient will see their audiologist at least yearly, though ore frequently in the beginning. A child CI user will probably see their audiologist every 6 months once they've had it a while. It can be hard to get real hands-on CI training as a student, even as a 4th year. You really have to go after it. Most CI clinics are in cities at hospitals. There are some audiologists who do only CIs, but most that do them do a variety of things.

    As an SLP, if you specialize in children with hearing loss, you would probably have CI clients. You could work at a school for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Since it is not easy for adults to get reimbursed for rehab, and since a lot of late-deafened adults getting CIs already know how to speak, you might not see as many adults with CIs.
  4. TheRealEar

    TheRealEar

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    I was in your position four years ago when I was trying to figure out if I wanted to go the speech or audiology route. I am currently a third year audiology student and have had hands-on experience in two different medical settings (in 2 different states). Here are some things that I didn't know about CIs going into audiology that may or may not help you with your decision. :)

    The first site I was at is in a state that has many speech schools. Therefore, most younger children saw an audiologist and SLP at their school and not in a hospital setting so I worked with a lot of the older children who were no longer receiving speech services.

    It is true that you will not see the patient as much as an SLP will. However, you do form a close bond with the family because you are the one counseling and guiding the family through the CI process. You will see them ALOT when they are first activated. At the other site that I was at we saw the patient two days in a row on initial activation, then once a week for a month, then every 3 months until the audiologist was comfortable putting them on a 6 month or 1 year schedule (that depends mainly on if they are bilateral v. unilateral). You also get to see them when equipment breaks, malfunctions, or there are other problems.

    The SLPs on both CI teams that I have worked with see the patients a lot more. Especially if they are children. Adults are often given listening strategies to work on (which an audiologist can do) but then quickly discharged. An SLP that wants to work with CI kids usually gets their auditory verbal certification and also learns how to teach families/children total communication. Some SLPs on the team at one site sign. If you take the SLP route and want to work exclusively with CI kids then I would recommend getting your certification in Auditory verbal therapy as well as learning how to provide therapy with TC and signing kids. In most states this seems like a high need.

    The way I made my decision is I thought about if I would enjoy the more medical side or therapy side when it came to hearing loss. Also, as much as I LOVE children I realized that there were some kids that I did not want to see biweekly for an hour at a time doing therapy for who knows how long :) Although SLP is only a two year graduate program, you also have a CFY year and then additional certification, which again I think is important with CI kids, before you are highly qualified to work with CI patients. Therefore, it will probably take you just as long to get the certification you need to be highly specialized compared to getting your Au.D. I also know some CI programs where the audiologist does the listening therapy while the SLP does the language therapy. It really depends on where you end up working.

    Sorry for the long post, but one more thing... it is harder to get hands on experience with CIs but definitely not impossible! I received hands-on experience in both my 2nd and 3rd years of school. Now this was on the established and "easier" patients. The fourth-year student at one of the sites I was at has enough experience to do initial activation even on the little guys.

    Hope this helps a little. I do not think you could make a wrong decision. I am very happy with my decision with audiology and love CIs but also love that I can do other things (diagnostics, hearing aids...) that helps the hearing impaired population! I have loads more information but I won't bore you with it. If you have any questions let me know. I am not an expert by any means these are just some things I have experienced with my limited exposure to CIs.

    Oh and you know you want to be an audiologist :D
  5. BrianaGrace17

    BrianaGrace17

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    Thanks everyone! Your advice always helps. I just love the idea of anything involving CIs. I'm sure there are ways to sprinkle some therapy in with being an audiologist so you get the best of both worlds.

    Does anyone know of a good grad program that offers cochlear implant specialities/opportunities?
  6. cmc271

    cmc271

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    Aural rehabilitation is totally within the realm of possibilities and scope of practice for an audiologist. Different settings may have the AuD focused more on just mapping vs mapping and AR. Part of that is under your control.
  7. BrianaGrace17

    BrianaGrace17

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    cmc271,

    Do you know what types of settings or programs emphasize both mapping and AR?
  8. cmc271

    cmc271

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    It can really vary a lot from setting to setting. Oral schools and schools for the deaf, pediatric hospitals may have some of that as well. As far as programs, I can't say specifically off hand.
  9. Kitska

    Kitska

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    I know an audiologist who worked 3 days/week at a CI center and 2 days/week as the school audiologist at an auditory-oral school. It was great, since she could see how her own patients were doing at school and confer with teachers and SLPs on what they were observing with the children -- were they missing certain sounds, etc. That would be an awesome situation for someone interested in children with cochlear implants.

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