What Must I avoid now I have a Cochlear Implant?

This page provides information about activities and medical treatments that MUST be avoided if you have a cochlear implant.

Please use the links below (shown in blue) to navigate to the desired section of the page. Each company also provides their own safety guidance that is specific to their implants and processors. Links to these documents can be found on the British Cochlear Implant Group website.

What activities MUST I avoid?

  • Diving from a diving board – this can cause trauma and put the internal implant at risk.
  • Rides involving high speeds / extreme forces as this may dislodge the internal implant
  • Martial arts involving throwing
  • Must not touch Van der Graaf generator in school science lessons
  • Must not touch cathode ray tube TV screen (LED/LCD are fine)
  • Do not touch/crawl under electric fence as may damage internal implant
  • Toys causing deliberate electric shocks

Note: If working in an environment with high magnetic fields contact NERCIP for advice

This is not an exhaustive list, for further information please refer to your implant user manual or contact the clinic or your implant company for advice.

What medical treatments MUST I avoid?

  • Electrosurgery – including dental surgery
    •  monopolar never in head and neck region
    • bipolar never within 2cm of implant
  • Therapeutic Diathermy – never to be used
  • Ultrasound diathermy is acceptable below head and neck only
  • Neurostimulation never over cochlear implant
  • Electro-convulsive therapy – never
  • Electric hayfever relievers – never
  • Electrical and electronic medical devices
    • If electric current may pass through head and neck – never
    • b) If electric current passes through another area of the body – must check with NERCIP first

This is not an exhaustive list, for further information please refer to your implant user manual or contact the clinic or your implant company for advice.

What medical treatments should I seek advice for BEFORE having them carried out?

The following medical treatments can sometimes be carried out on someone with a cochlear implant, please see your implant user manual or contact the clinic for further advice.

In most instances, clarification from the NERCIP must be sought prior to this.

They include:

  • MRI
  • Ultrasound
  • TENs machines (pain relief)
  • Devices for electronic pain therapy
  • Radiotherapy
  • Dental treatments e.g. ultrasonic tooth cleaner
  • Electro-acupuncture
  • Face lifts and hair transplants

This is not an exhaustive list, for further information please refer to your implant user manual or contact the clinic or your implant company for advice.

When will I need to remove the external part of my cochlear implant?

The external part of the cochlear implant (the processor) should be removed for the following:

  • X-ray
  • Gamma camera
  • If experimenting with static electricity in school science lesson
  • When playing vigorous / contact sports if a knock to the head is a possibility. Please use a helmet to protect the internal implant**
  • Gymnastics scrum cap provides some protection
  • Sailing / canoeing. Please use a helmet to protect the internal implant**
  • Swimming – unless waterproof / wearing waterproof aqua accessory
  • Water sports
  • Skiing
  • Activity park rides (excluding high speed / extreme force see ‘what to avoid’ section)
  • Sunbeds
  • Skydiving / parachuting

** Helmets should be of high quality. It will help to protect the implant from any blows. If possible the external equipment should be left on.

It is advisable to try different makes and types to check comfort and fit, it is especially important that it fits around the implant site to reduce pressure on the receiver and scar.

 This is not an exhaustive list, for further information please refer to your implant user manual or contact the clinic or your implant company for advice.