Thursday, April 8, 2010

Troubleshooting the cochlear implant equipment

Ava's coil failed on Easter. We noticed a steady flashing orange light blinking on her processor at the rate of one blink per second. This usually means the coil fell off and is not attached to her head. Or, it can mean that the processor is on the wrong ear. However, the coil was on her head and the processor on the correct ear yet the orange light continued to flash. We knew it wasn't the battery because the processor would show a fast flashing orange light. But nope, this was the slow flash. My husband hooked up the listening headphones to the processor and could detect good quality sound. So we knew it wasn't the processor. We got out the remote to troubleshoot. The remote indicated that "coil is disconnected from the implant" and displayed this picture:

which means the coil is no longer picking up a signal from the implant. The remote instructed us to check both the coil and the coil cable. So, first, we took the cable off the other ear and attached it to the faulty coil. Still got the steady orange flashes. Then, we took the good coil off the other ear and placed it on the processor and presto, the flashing stopped. Therefore we determined that the coil was faulty and not the cable. We went to our kit to get out a replacement coil. We found replacement cables; but lo and behold there were no replacement coils to be had! I found that quite odd, as we were given backup replacements for all parts (except the processor itself) with the Nucleus Freedom kits. Apparently the Nucleus 5 kits do not contain backup coils or magnets, only extra cables. A new coil costs $195! I did a brief survey of some fellow parents and some kits contained backups and some did not. It seemed most of those in the US had backups of everything, including a backup processor. Fortunately, Ava's coils were still under the 1 year warranty. Because it was a holiday, I couldn't do anything about it till the next day, Monday. Thankfully, Ava is a bilateral user, so she could still hear with one ear. I just can't imagine the thought of her having to spend a whole day without ANY access to sound whatsoever. On the advice of Ava's audiologist, I called "Hear Always", which is a division of Cochlear Corporation, which helps with troubleshooting and equipment replacement. I spoke to a kind gentleman, who confirmed the troubleshooting steps with me over the phone. I also learned that if we swiped the coil over the back of the remote, the remote would indicate whether the coil was receiving a sound signal or not. So cool! He arranged for a replacement coil to be fedexed overnight and we received it Tuesday morning. It worked! I felt so proud at figuring it all out. There were shipping instructions to return the faulty coil, at Cochlear's expense. All in all, it was quite an easy process and the remote was very simple to use. We do not use the remote on a regular basis but it sure came in handy this time!


  1. Thanks for the info! Hopefully we won't have to use it ;) Now that I think of it we don't have any extra coils either, odd considering we have backups to everything else.

  2. What it mean when the light stay on on orange? Please help

    1. It may be a problem with the processor. I would contact Cochlear and they can guide you through the trouble shooting