What is it about?

Outcomes following cochlear implantation are notoriously variable and difficult to predict before an implant is received. We show that children's speech and language skills after less than a year of experience with their implant, as well as growth in these skills within the first two years of implant use, predicted long-term language and neurocognitive outcomes measured more than a decade after children had received their implant.

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Why is it important?

Our study indicates that children's speech and language development very soon after receiving an implant may be a reliable marker of ultimate outcome in language and neurocognitive functioning. In turn, this suggests that children's early progress might be used clinically as a "red flag" for the risk of a poor outcome, which could be followed by appropriate early intervention.


We found that after an average of only 6 months of experience with their cochlear implants, there were substantial individual differences in children's speech and language skills - importantly, these differences persisted to predict outcomes more than a decade later. This finding may seem deterministic, suggesting a "Matthew effect" in which children who do well with their implant very soon after it is received continue to do well, and children who benefit less initially from implantation continue to receive limited benefit. However, long-term language and neurocognitive outcomes in our study were also predicted by improvement within the first two years of implant use. Taken together, these findings are consistent with the idea that early identification of risk for a poor outcome, when that leads to early intervention, could have a significant impact on the long-term benefit from a cochlear implant.

Cynthia Hunter
Indiana University System

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Early Postimplant Speech Perception and Language Skills Predict Long-Term Language and Neurocognitive Outcomes Following Pediatric Cochlear Implantation, Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research, August 2017, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA),
DOI: 10.1044/2017_jslhr-h-16-0152.
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