Study Focuses on Cochlear Implant Placement

Implanting in one ear, and then the other ear later, might work best

FRIDAY, June 2, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Sequential placement of cochlear implants -- electronic devices that can help restore partial hearing to deaf people -- in both a child's ears may help improve speech perception in quiet and noisy settings, a U.S. study finds.

The study included 30 children, aged 3 to 13, who received one cochlear implant and then a second in the other ear a minimum of six months later. The children's speech perception in quiet and in noise was tested at three, six, and 12 months in both unilateral (one ear) and bilateral hearing conditions.

In quiet conditions, the children acquired speech perception in the second ear within six months, but children younger than age 8 did so more quickly and acquired a higher level of speech perception compared to older children, said researchers at the Dallas Otolaryngology Cochlear Implant Program, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The children's speech perception in noisy conditions was much better when they had two cochlear implants than just one, the researchers added.

"Bilateral sequentially implanted children who are successful users of their first device are able to obtain open set speech discrimination in their second ear, even when receiving their second implant as late as 13 years of age," the researchers wrote. "Speech perception scores in the second ear improve with experience during the first six months of implant use. Scores continue to improve for up to 12 months in younger children. Further experience past six months may not add an additional improvement in older children," they added.

The study was presented at the recent annual meeting of the American Otological Society, in Chicago.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about cochlear implants.

SOURCE: American Otological Society, news release, May 22, 2006
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