Small update… I haven’t disappeared!

So, here I am again. I went to my appointment with the anaesthesist, but they told me that the Synchrony implant wasn’t approved in Belgium yet. So they postponed the operation date until the 14th of July. Next week, the 8th of July I have my anaesthesist appointment again, and then, hopefully, it’ll all begin!

Meanwhile, I got some part-time jobs and got my 4 wisdom tooth pulled, but other than that, nothing interesting happened.

I’ll write a more elaborate post next, but just so you know… I’m still alive and kicking!

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A long awaited update: The operation date!

Today, I received an e-mail from the hospital. They decided on the operation date for my cochlear implant.

The first pre-operative appointment is on may 18th, 2015, at 8:00 AM. I will talk with the anaesthesist, then I’ll have a last talk with my doctor, Dr Van de Heyning. There’ll also be another appointment on the same day with another doctor.

The operation date itself would be on may 26, 2015.

In the mail, they are also urging me not to take any aspirin until 10 days before the operation.

…My heart is racing. It suddenly makes me a bit scared, knowing that there’s a definitive date planned, and that everything will really continue from now on. I sort of thought that I would get to choose the operation date a little.

But, well, yeah. There you go, some fancy dates!

My New Year resolutions

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I hope you all had amazing holidays and a great New Year. I wish all of you the best for 2015! May miracles happen to you.

My holidays were rather uneventful, and currently I’m studying for my finals. My first final is this tuesday and I still have studying to do, so I’ll keep this post brief.

There are a few things I want to achieve in 2015. These are:

– Achieve my master’s degree in electronics-ICT engineering.
– Receive a cochlear implant.
– Reach 15% open-set speech recognition in quiet with my cochlear implant.
– Find a job.

I’m looking forward to see what 2015 might bring!

 

Cochlear implants: speech and sign language in deaf children?

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There’s always a huge controversial debate going on about whether or not a deaf child should learn sign language, some people fearing that it might hinder speech development. There are just as many myths out of there as there are facts, and I don’t feel like summing up all of them. Rather, I would like to share my own, personal view on this subject.

When talking about a child I’ll be using “his”, but this totally counts for the little girls too. I’m just too lazy to type “his/her” every time, and “it” feels just too impersonal.

Each child and every parent is different. Some children have capabilities that other children don’t have, and everyone should strive to offer their child whatever works best in their situation.

First and foremost, I think it’s important to offer the child a good foundation for a language. If you teach a language, be sure that you can master the language yourself. Immerse the child in language, the most important thing is that the child learns to have fun with languages.

One thing to remember: Once the child takes off his or her processors, they’re deaf. I think it’s important to have backup communication abilities for these times. Myself, I can read lips very well since sound never really made sense to me anyways, so it was my only option. However, lip-reading isn’t easy, and it usually has to be done in less than ideal circumstances. I believe that a child which wears his processors almost non-stop will have a very hard time learning to speech read as it’s not really necessary to invest any time into it.

To learn an auditory language, it IS necessary to spend extra time with the child, to train with the child and go to audiologist and speech therapy sessions often. It isn’t fun for the child if you keep on ‘testing’ whether the child hears or understand something, just for testing purposes, but if you make discovering sounds and language fun, it will only be beneficial for the child’s personal development.

However, I think it’s important to have a backup plan, just in case. There will always be times where hearing is hard, if not impossible. It just feels better knowing that communication is possible at all times.

If you don’t know sign language, or aren’t fluent in it, I wouldn’t recommend teaching it to the child as a first language before the child earned a good foundation for languages. But once the child is confident in one language, I think it’s enjoyable for the child if there’s a way to communicate when the child doesn’t have access to his ears.

If you are motivated and willing to learn sign language, and you know you will be capable to provide him with adequate language input, please don’t keep yourself from signing. When done consistently, this will allow for earlier access to language, and… at some times it’s just fun to be able to break through the sound barrier together, as a family. I’m pretty sure that the child will also be thankful later that he gained the opportunity to learn another language.

Some people expect their child to score just as well as his peers. Some people are sad or disappointed if the child doesn’t develop amazing spoken language right away, but I personally don’t think that this is a huge problem as long as the child is happy and can play along with friends without problems. I believe speech therapy can solve pretty much anything, if you just go on with it long enough. The most important thing here is that the child can hear, communicate, live and strive.

Let him be an amazing, happy person, proud of who he is and what he has achieved despite, or even because of this amazing piece of technology.

 

Merry Christmas, my dear readers! I’m thankful for any and all likes, comments and follows I have received so far, and the ones that are still to come. It makes me happy to know that there are people taking the time to read and enjoy my posts. Love you all.

Med-El speech processing strategies: FSP? FS4? FS4-p?

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Med-El’s latest speech strategies have caused a lot of confusion because of the naming. People keep on mixing up the three of them, but what do they actually do, and what is the difference between them?

First of all, they all use a special version of CIS: Continuous Interleaved Sampling. CIS works like this: The sound signal entering the microphone gets split up into different frequency bands. The amplitude of the sound gets processed with all the sound processing magic consisting out of dynamic ranges, noise filtering and all that high tech stuff, until you’re left with the envelope of the processed sound.

The different electrodes are mapped to different frequency bands, usually the most apical electrode – the electrode deepest in the cochlea – is mapped to the lowest frequency, and the most basal electrode is mapped to the highest frequency.

Each “cycle”, the incoming sound gets processed, the correct electrode pulses get generated, and every electrode gets sequentially stimulated with the waveform calculated for that specific electrode.

FSP, the strategy out of which FS4 and FSP-4 have evolved, differs from CIS in that there are some virtual channels being made through a specifically shaped pulse that gets stimulated in a regular electrode, but which sounds like an “in-between electrode”.

On top of that, in FSP the low-frequency electrodes (up to 3) will be pulsed at the same rate of the low-frequency sound signal. This means that the rate at which the apical electrodes fire won’t be the same as the rate of the basal electrodes, instead it varies with the frequency of the sound. This is being called rate-coding.

The FS4 coding strategy differs from FSP in that up to 4 apical channels can be rate-coded.

In FS4-p, the “p” signifies that the rate coding can be fired in parallel on any 2 of the 4 rate-coded apical electrodes, while still trying to minimize channel interaction.

This rounds up this post. I hope it was as informative for you as it was fun for me to write. To read more about electrode placement and sound coding, check out my other post!

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