Well, Brynn was activated on her left ear today! We'll save the right ear for later, depending on her reactions and tolerance levels as we progress.
As a quick intro before you see the video, here's a little explanation of how activation works:
First, the Audiologist only stimulates the implant with the computer, so Brynn doesn't hear voices or other environmental sounds--just some pulses sent to each of the 22 sound electrodes inside her ear. At the start of the test for each new electrode, the pulse begins at such a soft level that it is inaudible to Brynn. Then the volume gradually increases until the computer can read whether she's hearing by measuring the brainwave responses to the pulses. As soon as it gets a positive response it stops increasing the volume so as not to scare or overwhelm her, and then repeats the process on the next electrode.
Once the audiologist has a general idea of how much power to give each electrode, depending on how loud a sound has to be for Brynn to hear it, she can set what's called a "map" for that individual ear and each individual electrode. This makes sure that sound is not uncomfortably loud--after all, we want her to LIKE hearing, not to be terrified of it.
After the map is set at the audiologist's best guess for a quiet program, she turns on the microphone and Brynn can hear many of the sounds around her--at very quiet levels. Gradually, over a period of a few days or weeks, we will increase the volume of the sounds until Brynn is hearing the broadest range the CI can give her.
In the video, you can see how her reaction to the first phase--hearing the computer--was to get very quiet and to concentrate on this new sensation. Once the computer was reading good brain waves, it would switch to the next electrode. At each new electrode, Brynn couldn't hear the first very quiet tones and so she would instantly relax and start looking around again.
After the computer testing was complete, the map was set, and we were all talking to her--well, you can see her reaction for yourself:
After getting home, Brynn wasn't such a fan of all this new equipment. She got pretty fussy and upset--not when she heard sounds, but whenever the implant fell off or had to be put back on. So the plan for tomorrow is to make some adjustments and start again from a lower level so changes between hearing and not hearing won't be so drastic. This is certainly going to be an experimental process for all of us, but we're confident Brynn will eventually learn to like her new bionic ears.
Here are some still shots for the day. Here is when Brynn was really quiet, trying to concentrate on the computer pulses:
Wiggles and bubbles between electrode testing:A little pondering about this new equipment on her head:
Warming up to the idea:Realizing this isn't really so bad:
We love our little gem.
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