Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sports and Hearing Devices

"Runners, to your mark," said the starter.  "Get set......." Then a blast and the runners are off to run eight laps, or 3200 meters.  You might be thinking, "Eight laps!  Who would be crazy enough to do that?!!!"  The answer is hard-core cross-country runners, including me.
It is not hard to play a sport with a hearing loss.  Just get your running or swimming gear and get out there.  Of course, there will be lots of sweating whether you have a hearing problem or not.
By now you might be thinking, "Wait.  I wear hearing devices, and my mom won't let me out to play unless I have them."  Not to worry about, my mom does the same thing, but I am still out there running eight laps. Here's the secret.  You can wear your hearing devices anywhere, as long as there is no large pool of water involved.*  Most new hearing aids are water-resistant, so light rain drizzles and sweat are not a problem.  If heavy rain is involved or you are a heavy sweater, then get a dehumidifier and throw your hearing devices in right after the workout.  This also works for vacationing or living in a humid place.  Immediately after training, I quickly put them in the dehumidifier. There is also a “sweat band” available for hearing aids.  The fabric absorbs some of the sweat and helps stop the aids from flopping around on your ears.  If it starts raining buckets in the middle of the workout, and you know what you are doing, then you can take them out and put it in the dehumidifier while you run, or give them to a coach and retrieve it after the workout.  Thank you coach!
Now if there is a pool of water to jump into, then leave your hearing devices on the shore. They will be a lot happier there, trust me (and so will your parents).  But how will you know what you are supposed to be doing?  Try to understand what the workout is on land with your hearing devices BEFORE jumping in.  Let the lifeguards know that you are hard of hearing, before you get in the water, so that they don’t think you are ignoring them when they blow the whistle or shout out instructions.  Also, if your coach likes to give directions in the middle of the workout (like hard, slow, left, or right) some visual signs you and your coach come up with will accommodate that.  Visual signs not only help you, but everyone, especially if it is very noisy.
"Honey, don't forget your helmet!"  Yep, you can wear hearing aids with a helmet, so don't ignore hockey and lacrosse because of hearing devices.  This is true for bicycling, wrestling, football, rock climbing, skiing, snowboarding, and the list goes on.  If feedback is an issue, then it might be possible to go without your hearing aids with visual aids and signing.  When skiing and snowboarding without any hearing aids, you could wear a vest or put a sticker on your helmet to let people around you know that you cannot hear them approaching and they will give you a wide berth.
So get out there!  Run eight laps, or participate in whatever sport you enjoy!


*Note: If somehow water does get into your hearing aids, you can go to an audiologist and have them sent back to the shop for service.  Some audiologists, like mine, might be able to give you a temporary replacement while they are fixing the hearing aid.

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