Davidson, Geers, Uchanski, Firszt (2019) Effects of Early Acoustic Hearing on Speech Perception and Language for Pediatric Cochlear Implant Recipients Journal of speech, language, and hearing research : JSLHR 62(9) 3620-3637
Purpose The overall goal of the current study was to identify an optimal level and duration of acoustic experience that facilitates language development for pediatric cochlear implant (CI) recipients-specifically, to determine whether there is an optimal duration of hearing aid (HA) use and unaided threshold levels that should be considered before proceeding to bilateral CIs. Method A total of 117 pediatric CI recipients (ages 5-9 years) were given speech perception and standardized tests of receptive vocabulary and language. The speech perception battery included tests of segmental perception (e.g., word recognition in quiet and noise, and vowels and consonants in quiet) and of suprasegmental perception (e.g., talker and stress discrimination, and emotion identification). Hierarchical regression analyses were used to determine the effects of speech perception on language scores, and the effects of residual hearing level (unaided pure-tone average [PTA]) and duration of HA use on speech perception. Results A continuum of residual hearing levels and the length of HA use were represented by calculating the unaided PTA of the ear with the longest duration of HA use for each child. All children wore 2 devices: Some wore bimodal devices, while others received their 2nd CI either simultaneously or sequentially, representing a wide range of HA use (0.03-9.05 years). Regression analyses indicate that suprasegmental perception contributes unique variance to receptive language scores and that both segmental and suprasegmental skills each contribute independently to receptive vocabulary scores. Also, analyses revealed an optimal duration of HA use for each of 3 ranges of hearing loss severity (with mean PTAs of 73, 92, and 111 dB HL) that maximizes suprasegmental perception. Conclusions For children with the most profound losses, early bilateral CIs provide the greatest opportunity for developing good spoken language skills. For those with moderate-to-severe losses, however, a prescribed period of bimodal use may be more advantageous for developing good spoken language skills.