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Posted on Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Playing Sports with Hearing Loss

Seattle Seahawk Derrick Coleman inspires those with hearing loss

In addition to the common risks people who play sports face, children and adults with hearing loss, like football star Derrick Coleman, face unusual challenges in being athletic. These challenges include communication, safety, and keeping hearing instruments from being damaged.

Modern hearing aids are designed to be water and dust resistance and to better keep up with the active lifestyle of today's hearing aid users, but playing sports with hearing loss requires unique strategies and preparation.

Communication
Hand signals in team sports is nothing new, but in addition to learning to communicate visually with teammates those with hearing loss should develop additional communication strategies. For example colored flags can signal the player when in the field or at the starting line. A hearing buddy who can relate messages that might otherwise be missed. An excellent article that included these and other strategies is Sporting Success. It has useful strategies for dozens of sports including individual sports. In addition to these strategies, assistive listening devices that allow for more inclusive communication are more readily available.

Keep Them Dry
If you are an active person, it is good to remember that there are many delicate parts inside hearing aids that you cannot reach, and since moisture is insidious, a good investment would be a hearing aid dehumidifier box. Using a dehumidifier on nights after playing an outdoor or indoor sport helps to keep it dry. Brushing the hearing aid in the morning after this process and at night before helps remove excess wax and dirt as well.

Headbands
Using a regular headband can keep excessive sweat from saturating your hearing aids. There are also other accessories that serve the same function as a regular headbands but specifically for hearing aids. Hearing Aid Sweatbands fits over top of your hearing aids adding an extra layer of protection from sweat and grime and also come in a variety of colors.

On The Field
Dehumidifiers are good to help remove excess moisture from a hearing aid at home, but when you are outside at a sports event there are also portable >"puffers" available that blow small amounts of air through a hearing aid or through hearing aid tubing and moldings to keep them clean and obstruction free. In addition this article, Sports and Cochlear Implantgives some practical advice for people who have hearing impairment--not just those who use Cochlear Implants.

Athletes with hearing loss on the field continue to inspire us every day! Thanks, Derrick Coleman!

Tubing
BTE hearing aids have a tube that connects from the inner ear piece to the outer shell of the hearing aid. During most of the year this piece can be removed and replaced regularly to avoid obstructions, but people often find that tubes need to be replaced or cleaned more often when playing sports. Obtaining extra tubing helps to make sure that any unforeseen complication with tubing can be easily remedied.

Securing Hearing Aids
If you are playing a contact sport or a sport that may increase the chance of your hearing aid falling off, you may want to secure the hearing aid by using something like Oto Clip which attaches to the hearing aid and then securely to your clothing. A regular headband can also be positioned to keep hearing aids from falling off as well as a skull cap. This is an important piece of equipment for athletes in the Olympics and those in the Deaflympics.

Antimicrobrial Products
Hearing aids tend to gather bacteria and other microbes like fungi when they are exposed to excess moisture. Investing in an Antimicrobrial product which can be applied to the hearing aids every few days helps kill off infection causing microbes.

If you'd like to learn more about hearing aids and assistive listening devices that can keep up with your active lifestyle see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

Resources

Deaflympics

Sports and Cochlear Implant

Kids with Hearing Loss and Sports

Healthy Hearing

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