Diving with a cochlear implant

Cochlear Implant (CI)

A cochlear implant (CI) is a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing.

I progressively lost my hearing ability from the age of 13 onward.  With 25 I got my first hearing aids (amplifiers) and with 45 years I got a cochlear implant. My CI is wonderful and allows me to hear almost everything. I can communicate and enjoy listening to music.

Only one ear has an implant. The other ear serves for decoration only and avoids that my sunglasses are falling down. 😉 Two years ago, I asked the Swiss social security IV/AI to finance a second implant. They refused with the argument that I am too old.  Nit-pickers! Since I was 18, I have paid my insurance contribution and now when I need their help, they say no. Shame on them.

Another problem arose, when I started diving. One cannot live in one of the best dive spots in the Philippines without seeing the underwater world. Since I was a young boy I did snorkeling and free diving. I usually go down to 12 to 15 meters. The implant manufacturer allows a depth of 25 meters. When free diving, one does not need to hear, although it would be useful. But when you do scuba diving, then you should hear. Dive masters usually cling their knife on the tank to send an “Attention” signal.

Without Cochlear Implant (CI)

That’s me without my cochlear implant processor. Of course, the implanted part is still in my head 😉 . The manufacturer of my CI, Advanced Bionics, produces now a waterproof CI processor and microphone. Unfortunately the specialist of the Centre Romand d’Implants Cochléaires (CRIC) had to inform me that my implanted electronics aren’t compatible with the new Neptune CI. It seems that the new Neptune CI cannot provide enough power to the implant.

Neptune CINeptune CINeptune CINeptune CI

These are the nice pictures from Advanced Bionic’s advertisement. Even if I cannot wear the Neptune processor, Advanced Bionics could provide owners of a “Platinum Series” processor with a waterproof case. What GoPro can do, Advanced Bionics should also be able to do! Build a waterproof case for depths of 25 meters. The GoPro case is even approved for depths down to 40 meters. Protection against the corrosive atmosphere at the sea-side would be another advantage of such a case.

Cochlear Implant (CI)

Gearing up with my head piece and processor still connected.

Cochlear Implant (CI)

My “Platinum series” processor and my head piece have to stay on-shore 🙁

I hopefully look forward to my visit at the CRIC this summer. Maybe they will have good news for me … 🙂


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2 Responses

  1. Wong says:

    HI thanks for sharing your story. What’s the outcome after 2 years? Still diving ?

  2. waebi says:

    Hi Wong,
    Of course, I am diving as often as I find an hour or so to meet the fish. Unfortunately I still do not hear under water. Since I wrote above article, I met the CI crew in Geneva twice. The manufacturer seems to be a Pinoy. I always hear “next year maybe” – hahaha!
    The implant is still working perfectly and I am happy to listen early in the morning to the birds in our park. Just now the sunbirds have kids and it is amazing to hear their very high pitched voices.
    New processor? Maybe it’s this year?
    Cheers, waebi

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