Author(s): Geers A, Brenner C, Davidson L
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: This study investigated factors contributing to speech perception outcomes in children with prelingual deafness after 4 to 7 yr of multichannel cochlear implant use. The analysis controlled for the effects of child, family and implant characteristics so that educational factors most conducive to maximum implant benefit could be identified. DESIGN: One hundred eighty-one 8- and 9-yr-old children from across the US and Canada who received a cochlear implant by age 5 were administered a battery of speech perception tests. Type and amount of educational intervention since implantation constituted the independent variables. Characteristics of the child, the family, and the implant itself constituted intervening variables. A series of multiple regression analyses determined the amount of variance in speech perception ability accounted for by the intervening variables and the amount of additional variance attributable to independent variables. RESULTS: The children achieved an average level of about 50\% open-set speech perception through listening alone and almost 80\% through lipreading and listening together, but with scores for individual children ranging from 0 to 100\% correct. Over half of the variance in speech perception scores was predicted by characteristics of the child, family, implant and educational program. Significant predictors of good speech perception included greater nonverbal intelligence, smaller family size, longer use of the updated SPEAK/CIS processing strategy, a fully active electrode array, greater electrical dynamic range between threshold and maximum comfort level, and greater growth of loudness with increasing stimulus intensity. After the variance due to these variables was controlled, the primary rehabilitative factor associated with good speech perception skill development was educational emphasis on oral-aural communication. CONCLUSIONS: Children with profound hearing loss achieved unprecedented levels of speech perception skill 4 to 7 yr after cochlear implantation. Use of an updated speech processor, such as SPEAK, contributed significantly to improved speech perception skills, even in children who were initially fitted with an earlier strategy, such as M-PEAK. In addition, the audiologist who programs the cochlear implant makes an important contribution to the child's successful outcome with the device. A well-fitted map, as evidenced by a wide dynamic range and optimal growth of loudness characteristics, contributed substantially to the child's ability to hear speech. Finally, the classroom communication mode used in the child's school affects speech perception outcome. Children whose educational program emphasized dependence on speech and audition for communication were better able to use the information provided by the implant to understand speech.
This article was published in Ear Hear
and referenced in Journal of Phonetics & Audiology