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CI and Electrostatic Discharge

Last Updated: 03/28/17


  1. Results of ESD
  2. Some Causes of ESD
  3. Ways to Decrease ESD

Cochlear Devices and Electrostatic Discharge

(Static Electricity)

Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) can damage sensitive electronic equipment, including Cochlear Devices of Cochlear Implants (CI) and Auditory Brainstem Implant (ABI). ESD is an everyday occurrence, which may go unnoticed, since charges may be small.

ESD is the sudden discharge of static electricity. Electronic devices, including cochlear implants (both the internal and external devices), are susceptible to damage from ESD. [Journal of Educational Audiology, 2002]

1. Results of ESD

Issues from ESD could include:

  • Program Issues: Disruption or mapping disruption easily fixed at next tune up session with an Audiologist.
  • Processor Damage: Damage to the speech processor circuitry which would require a new speech processor.
  • Receiver failure: This is rare for more recent implant models which are more resistant to ESD, but would require another surgery for replacement if failure occurs.

2. Some Causes of ESD

  • Low Humidity - Hot or Cold Dry Conditions
  • Removing Clothes over the Head
  • Playing on Plastic Slides
  • Walking Across a Carpet
  • Handling Polyethylene Bags
  • Pouring Polyurethane Foam into a Box
  • Latex balloon coming in contact with Hair
  • CRT's - Computer Monitors and TV's

3. Ways to Decrease ESD

  • Monitoring humidity levels:
    • Over 30% humidity
    • Use of Humidifier
    • Noting times of year dry in your region - Typically November to March
  • Use of fabric softener
  • Use of anti-static mats
  • Avoiding synthetic cloth

4. Reference Sources

  1. Cochlear. http://www.cochlear.com/
  2. Journal of Educational Audiology 10. An Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Dontrol Program for Children with Cochlear Implants. (2002). http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.edaud.org/resource/resmgr/imported/02_McGinnis.pdf