It's at this time of year when the air becomes drier and humidity levels drop that we begin thinking about ESD. However, it is important to remember that ESD can happen at any time during the year. Learning about ESD and taking simple precautions can protect valuable equipment from possible damage.
What is Electrostatic Discharge or ESD?
"ESD is the sudden discharge of static electricity, which most people associate with the shock or spark they feel when touching a doorknob or pulling apart socks in a clothes dryer (McGinnis, 2002)".
Can ESD damage a cochlear implant?
While the newer cochlear implants are equipped with features that protect against ESD, it is always a good idea to take simple precautions that can eliminate or minimize ESD.
What can I do to protect against ESD?
The following are suggestions for protecting against ESD
Learn about ESD and it's potential effects on cochlear implants
Identify sources of ESD and avoid them or take necessary precautions
Always touch another surface BEFORE touching or handling cochlear implant equipment
For body worn processors, cables can be worn under clothing
Use fabric softener when washing clothes
Carry fabric softener sheets, anti-static spray, or a spray bottle with a mixture of fabric softener and water to use on clothing or carpeting
Use a professional staticide for treating large carpeted areas: www.aclstaticide.com
Additional resources with suggestions for protecting cochlear implants from ESD can be found in printed materials provided by the cochlear implant company or on their websites.
McGinnis, Mary D. (2002). An Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Control Program for Children with Cochlear Implants. Journal of Educational Audiology, v. 10, p.57-64.
Cochlear Corporation: http://www.cochlearamericas.com/PDFs/TeachersGuide.Chpt5.pdf
Advanced Bionics (2009). Tools for Schools. Commonly Asked Questions: Static Electricity and Cochlear Implants.