Speech Perception and Cochlear Implants in Children

Posted by:gulf onMarch 25, 2019

By Dez Duran-Lamanilao

Hearing loss has been a prevalent human sensory defect for some time now. Alternative medications, options and innovations are continuously being designed to deal with this condition; one of which is cochlear implants. Since their discovery, cochlear implants (Cis) have played a vital role in restoring hearing sensation to individuals who are suffering from profound or total hearing loss. In fact, children with CIs have shown considerable improvements in speech perception after cochlear implantation.

A study reveals that cochlear implants can be used as a tool to evaluate the central nervous system’s processing of sensory information. The CNS creates networks to process the complex patters of auditory sensory information. For deaf children for example, they cannot usually understand speech fully because of the lack of enough sensory information that must be transferred to their central pattern recognition mechanisms.

An article published in JAMA Pediatrics reveals how patients (children with severe to profound hearing loss) showed notable improvements in terms of their audiological status, speech perception skills and overall developmental functioning in just a short time after surgery. Children in the beginning stages of impairment showed the greatest improvement in speech perception, and greatest developmental gains were observed with young age at implantation. Thus, designing an ideal cochlear implant speech processor should include a more in-depth understanding of the factors that are vital for auditory pattern recognition and speech perception.

Here is a video showing a child with cochlear implants hearing for the first time:

While the sophistication of CIs is rapidly growing, children, who are more vulnerable to the physical, emotional and psychological effects of hearing loss, must be given the chance to use customized CIs so their capabilities are fully utilized.

Parents and teachers should not solely depend on CIs though. The authors of a Finnish research recognized the importance of singing as well as instrument playing in speech perception in noise of kids with cochlear implants. They even recommend that music be incorporated by daycare centers and schools in children’s learning, and that parents must take time to sing to them at home.

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