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Vol. 15, No. 1, 2010
Issue release date: December 2009
Audiol Neurotol 2010;15:44–56

Speech Perception Benefit for Children with a Cochlear Implant and a Hearing Aid in Opposite Ears and Children with Bilateral Cochlear Implants

Mok M. · Galvin K.L. · Dowell R.C. · McKay C.M.
aDepartment of Otolaryngology, University of Melbourne, and bCochlear Implant Clinic, Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, East Melbourne, Vic., Australia; cSchool of Psychological Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK

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The aims of the present study are to investigate: (1) the effect of using a hearing aid (HA) or a second cochlear implant (2nd CI) on speech recognition in noise for children; (2) the ability to perceive phoneme groups of different frequencies when using a CI and an HA in opposite ears (bimodal fitting) and when using a CI in each ear (bilateral implant fitting), and (3) the relationship between aided thresholds in the HA ear and bimodal advantage. Thirteen school-age children who consistently used a bimodal or bilateral implant fitting participated. Perception was evaluated using consonant-nucleus-consonantwords presented from in front with noise from either side. Significant bimodal or bilateral CI advantage in speech perception was demonstrated by most subjects in at least 1 noise condition. Comparisons indicated that the bimodal advantage obtained by the bimodal subjects was greater than the bilateral CI advantage obtained by the bilateral-implant subjects in the noise front condition, but also suggested that the 2nd CI may provide more functional advantage in real life. The mechanisms underlying the advantage provided by the second device appear to be different in the bimodal and bilateral groups. Information transmission analysis did not show a clear difference between the groups in the pattern of advantage across phoneme groups. For the bimodal subjects, those with better aided thresholds at low frequencies and poorer aided thresholds at 4 kHz demonstrated greater bimodal advantage. Overall, these findings encourage the use of bimodal and bilateral implant fittings for children, provide insight into the individual variability in bimodal outcome, and enhance understanding of the differences between an HA and a 2nd CI when used together with an implant in the opposite ear.

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