After our glimpse into the world of audiology in our “From the Desk of…” series, we sat down with another member of Hear and Say’s Audiology team, Pirasha Maru, to find out more about her role.
1.What does a typical workday look like for you as a Hear and Say audiologist?
I have up to five face-to-face appointments in a day, with clients aged anywhere from newborn through to adults. Clients might be coming in for a diagnostic hearing assessment, or they may already wear a hearing device that needed to be programmed. After the appointment, I consolidate the results and write an audiology report for that individual. We also liaise regularly with our internal interdisciplinary team, and externally with other health professionals such as psychologists, ENT specialists and hospital hearing implant facilitators. Often I will also attend or present at conferences to keep up to date with the latest research and industry updates.
2.What happens at a cochlear implant switch-on?
Once an ENT surgeon has inserted the cochlear implant, the individual will come and see our Audiology team for the implant to be “switched on”. It is a special appointment for both the families and our team alike, as it is often the first time the client/child is hearing. The steps involved include:
- We inspect the insertion site for any signs of infections and run a check to confirm that the electrodes in the implant are functioning normally.
- We then program (or “map”) the cochlear implant. If we are working with a baby, we look for visual signs that they hear the test sounds, such as their eye widening or going still. We use a puppet and light box to help them associate hearing sound with a puppet appearing. For older children, we ask them to press a button when they hear the sound or to let us know when they hear it. Based on these behavioural responses we set the map.
- All 22 electrodes of the implant will be switched on during this appointment, but at a very reduced level so that the child is not overwhelmed by the new sound heard through the implant.
- Once all the electrodes are turned on, we typically let family members speak first, so their voices are the first sound the child hears.
- We then make a lot of loud sounds to check that the child will tolerate the map in everyday environments.
After the switch-on day, we will have weekly appointments so that we can gradually increase the map until the patient has adequate access to the speech spectrum at a soft level.
3.What do you enjoy most about working at Hear and Say?
It is so rewarding to hear children with cochlear implants say their first words and see them become more socially engaged. Being at Hear and Say also has the bonus of working alongside so many immensely experienced and caring professionals.
4.Do you have any specific memories from your time at Hear and Say that stand out as being really special?
One moment that stands out is the switch-on of the first child I was the case manager for. As soon as the child’s mother said hello, they started laughing and went straight for a hug. It was a beautiful and rare moment that will always stick in my mind.