Effects of Frequency Compression Hearing Aids for Unilaterally Implanted Children With Acoustically Amplified Residual Hearing in the Nonimplanted Ear

Carolina Children's Communicative Disorders Program, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
Ear and hearing (Impact Factor: 2.84). 04/2012; 33(4):e1-e12. DOI: 10.1097/AUD.0b013e31824a3b97
Source: PubMed


The primary objective of this study is to evaluate the benefits of nonlinear frequency compression (NLFC) hearing aids in the nonimplanted ears of children with unilateral cochlear implants (CIs). It is hypothesized that speech perception performance will benefit from complementary auditory cues provided by the CI and the hearing aid, particularly with the increased access to high-frequency sounds provided by NLFC.
Eleven children using unilateral CIs with usable residual hearing in the nonimplanted ears were enrolled in the study and fitted with NLFC hearing aids. The test protocol included consonant-nucleus-consonant words in quiet, the Hearing in Noise Test sentences presented in speech noise and two-talker maskers, and a consonant identification task. Subjects were tested in a CI-alone condition as well as bimodally, with and without NLFC enabled.
The results support previous work in adults and children, demonstrating the beneficial effects of bimodal listening. Frequency compression did not significantly affect performance for the children enrolled in this study, although some preferred using NLFC. The results yield suggestions regarding test methods for pediatric bimodal listeners, and considerations regarding validation and audibility of the compressed signal.
Hearing aid use in the contralateral ear of unilaterally implanted children is beneficial. Children and young adults who are fitted bimodally should be tested both in quiet and in complex listening situations to determine bimodal benefit. In the current test battery, the inclusion of frequency compression in the hearing aid fitting does not seem to provide significant improvement beyond standard hearing aid fittings or any bilateral interference symptoms for this group of bimodal listeners.

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