Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate 1) whether a hearing aid needs to be adjusted differently depending on whether a child wears a cochlear implant or another hearing aid in the contralateral ear; 2) whether the use of a hearing aid and a cochlear implant in opposite ears leads to binaural interference; and 3) whether the use of a hearing aid and a cochlear implant in opposite ears leads to binaural benefits in speech perception, localization, and communicative functioning in real life. Design: Sixteen children participated in this study. All children used a Nucleus 22 or Nucleus 24 cochlear implant system programmed with the SPEAK strategy in one ear. The hearing aid amplification requirements in the nonimplanted ear of these children were determined using two procedures. A paired comparison technique was used to identify the frequency response that was best for speech intelligibility in quiet, and a loudness balancing technique was used to match the loudness of speech in the ear with a hearing aid to that with a cochlear implant. Eleven of the 16 children participated in the investigation of binaural effects. Performance in speech perception, localization, and communicative functioning was assessed under four aided conditions: cochlear implant with hearing aid as worn, cochlear implant alone, hearing aid alone, and cochlear implant with hearing aid adjusted according to individual requirements. Results: Fifteen of the 16 children whose amplification requirements were determined preferred a hearing aid frequency response that was within ±6 dB/octave of the NAL-RP prescription. On average, the children required 6 dB more gain than prescribed to balance the loudness of the implanted ear for a speech signal presented at 65 dB SPL. For all 11 children whose performance was evaluated for investigating binaural effects, there was no indication of significantly poorer performance under bilaterally aided conditions compared with unilaterally aided conditions. On average, there were significant benefits in speech perception, localization, and aural/oral function when the children used cochlear implants with adjusted hearing aids than when they used cochlear implants alone. All individuals showed benefits in at least one of the measures. Conclusions: Hearing aids for children who also use cochlear implants can be selected using the NAL-RP prescription. Adjustment of hearing aid gain to match loudness in the implanted ear can facilitate integration of signals from both ears, leading to better speech perception. Given that there are binaural advantages from using cochlear implants with hearing aids in opposite ears, clinicians should advise parents and other professionals about these potential advantages, and facilitate bilateral amplification by adjusting hearing aids after stable cochlear implant MAPs are established.
|Number of pages||16|
|Journal||Ear and hearing|
|Publication status||Published - 2001|