To compare the communication outcomes between children with aided residual hearing and children with cochlear implants.
Measures of speech recognition and language were administered to pediatric hearing aid users and cochlear implant users followed up longitudinally as part of an ongoing investigation on cochlear implant outcomes. The speech recognition measures included the Lexical Neighborhood Test, Phonetically Balanced–Kindergarten Word Lists, and the Hearing in Noise Test for Children presented in quiet and noise (+5 dB signal-to-noise ratio). Language measures included the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test: Third Edition (PPVT-III), the Reynell Developmental Language Scales, and the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals–Revised.
The experimental group was composed of 39 pediatric hearing aid users with a mean unaided pure-tone average threshold of 78.2 dB HL (hearing level). The comparison group was composed of 117 pediatric cochlear implant users with a mean unaided pure-tone average threshold of 110.2 dB HL. On average, both groups lost their hearing at younger than 1 year and were fitted with their respective sensory aids at 2 to 2.6 years of age. Not every child was administered every test for a variety of reasons.
Between-group performance was equivalent on most speech recognition and language measures. The primary difference found between groups was on the PPVT-III, in which the hearing aid group had a significantly higher receptive vocabulary language quotient than the cochlear implant group. Notably, the cochlear implant group was substantially younger than the hearing aid group and had less experience with their sensory devices on this measure.
Data obtained from children with aided residual hearing can be useful in determining cochlear implant candidacy.