If you’ve read some of my other posts, you will hopefully recognize the need for practice and rehabilitation after activation. But one of the biggest questions is where to start? Well, I hope to make that process just a bit easier with this post.
To start with, let me just say that rehab doesn’t have to be fancy. Also, what works for me may not work for you; so I will try to list as many options here for you to try and explore. The bottom line is to LISTEN. Make connections between the sounds you hear and what’s making those sounds. Our brain is incredibly powerful and can do amazing things so don’t doubt yourself. Have faith and put in some effort and I’m certain you’ll see improvement.
The very easiest thing you can do is simply listen. Be sure to actively listen to the world around you and identify where sounds are coming from. As you identify the source of the sound, try to recall what that sound was like when you could hear “naturally”, IF you heard naturally. Then lather, rinse, repeat. Keep making those connections and before you know it, you’ll be able to identify a sound simply by hearing it.
Make your every day life a part of your listening rehab. Watch TV with captions, talk to friends & family, listen to talk radio or podcasts, find audio books and read along, etc. Even talking to yourself, as strange as it sounds, can be a great form of rehab.
It’s still a good idea to set aside some time each day to do active rehab of some sort. If you’re bimodal or bilateral, you may want to spend part of your rehab time without your hearing aid or “older” CI. Many find better results when they focus on only the new CI, at least in the early days. Read on for some additional resources to try.
There are a bunch of great apps out there to use. The benefit of a mobile app is that it is just that – mobile! It can go with you wherever you are. If you have a way to stream directly from your device to your processors, even better! It will help you cut out the distracting background sounds for a pure audio signal. You can always pop on a good set of headphones if you don’t have a way to stream. I’ll start with the apps I have used successfully and will list some others that I’ve heard good things about. Please note: these are iPhone apps – I cannot say whether these are available for Android.
Hear Coach by Starkey Laboratories
Hear Coach by Starkey Laboratories
This was my favorite app for training. I found the interface very user-friendly and the way the levels advance provided just the right amount of challenge. As the levels progress, they add background noise and chatter for a more “real world scenario”. The speakers voices are clear and void of accents so it is very good for a native English speaker such as myself. There are only options for speech identification though, no environmental sounds. The app has 3 “game” types to choose from; word racer, word target, & repeater. I used word target the most. It does include progress tracking as well, but the progress report is somewhat limited.
I-Angel Sound by Emily Wu Foundation
i-Angel Sound by University of California, Los Angeles
Angel Sound is a very encompassing app for listening rehab. I used this app a lot as well. I will say that the interface is not as polished or user-friendly as Hear Coach, but it offers a LOT of rehab options including environmental & music/instrument sounds so it’s quite well rounded. The one negative that I have is that the voices are not as crisp and clear as Hear Coach but it is still a very good option for rehab. The progress tracking with I-Angel Sound is a bit more in depth than Hear Coach.
ABClix by Advanced Bionics
AB CLIX by Advanced Bionics, LLC
I didn’t get a lot of opportunity to use this app because when I was first working through rehab, it was only available for iPad and I don’t really have one that I can access (my kids always have it). I did get to use it a few times though and it’s really good. It has a placement test which will suggest levels for you to try based on how well you did on the test. I love how you can use it with someone or by yourself. So if you want real-world practice with people you are around, you can have a friend (Listening coach) say the words for you. Great if you’re really struggling and need the help of lipreading too – just don’t let yourself become too reliant on the lipreading, break away from that safety net and use your ears!
Speech Banana by John T Ratnanather
Speech Banana by John T Ratnanather
Speech Banana is another iPad only app that unfortunately I have not tried at all, but I’ve heard good things about. If you have an iPad, why not check it out and let me know what you think?
Games 4 Hearoesby Playing by Ear
Games 4 Hearoes by Games 4 Hearoes
This is a brand new app that has just launched. I’m quite impressed with what it offers and the interface. I should caution however, that the game hails from down under so the speech has a heavy Australian accent. I hope the developer continues to offer additional modules, as I think this has great potential as a fun way to learn how to listen.
Websites & Computer Based Programs
There are a few web sites and/or computer based programs that can be used for rehabilitation purposes as well. I’ve used a few of these myself.
Various activities broken down into age groups.
Interactive listening exercises to aid in music appreciation.
This is a Facebook group that posts daily exercises that you can do.
Angel Sound is the full computer program version of the I-Angel Sound app I spoke about above. This is a full-fledged program that you install on your computer (available by download or you can request to have a disc mailed to you). Probably the most in depth of the auditory rehab options out there. However, it’s not the easiest to navigate.
2 Ears Are Better Than 1YouTube Channel
I have a handful of short rehab videos that you can practice with. They’re nothing fancy, but it is another tool for your tool box.
TED TalksYouTube channel
TED Talks YouTube videos are great for good audio with captions. With over 2500 videos, you’re sure to find a topic of interest and it’s always better to rehab when it’s enjoyable.
Aside from the apps and resources listed above, my biggest suggestion for music rehab is to listen to music you remember. Choose your favorite songs that you know by heart and play them over and over again remembering how it used to sound as you listen along. For new songs that you like, use an app like Shazam or SoundHound to get the lyrics so you can follow along as you listen. YouTube is also a great source for songs with lyrics.
Here are a couple of apps specific to music and pitch that you might like to try.
Auralia Pitch Comparison
Auralia Pitch Comparison by Rising Software
This is not a free app, but it’s fantastic for testing your pitch perception. I have found this very useful.
Pitch Perfect (Pitch Pipe) by Depollsoft
This is great for testing your range of frequencies as well as training for pitch differentiation. It allows you to see not only the note but also the frequency of that note.
That wraps up my “tool chest” of rehab resources. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but should give you a good start on your journey to better hearing. Just keep on listening to the world around you and remember; Life. Sounds. Good. 🙂