Although it is clear that early auditory stimulation through cochlear implantation (CI) has been shown to improve speech and language development trajectories for children with prelingual hearing loss, data supporting implantation in postlingual children are mostly lacking. The purpose of this study was to characterize speech perception abilities following CI in a group of children with previously well-developed language abilities.
Twenty-eight hearing-impaired children who received CIs were selected for study based on the presence of well-developed spoken language skills before implantation. Fifteen children with prelingual hearing loss served as a control group. Speech perception skills were assessed using developmentally appropriate measures.
Children with postlingual hearing loss showed a statistically significant improvement in open-set speech perception scores as early as 6 months following CI, whereas prelingual children demonstrated significant improvements only after 24 months of use. Despite these early disparities in performance, the two groups were similar 36 months after implantation and beyond (60 months of implant use).
Children with well-developed language abilities before CI showed substantial (and statistically significant) early improvements in open-set speech perception abilities following implantation that continued beyond 2 years of follow-up. These results suggest that postlingual children are excellent candidates for CI. Laryngoscope, 2012