Date published: January 1, 2010
Journal code: INHR
Profoundly deaf children with a cochlear device (hearing aid) rate their quality of life equal to that of their normal-hearing peers. In addition, the longer the child wears the device, the better overall quality of life reported and the more successful the child is in school.
"Wearing cochlear implants doesn't seem to create greater psychosocial problems overall for their users," said Dr. Betty Loy, Clinical Research Manager in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.
Cochlear implants are small electronic devices that are surgically implanted in the inner ear. They are activated by another device worn outside the ear. The device bypasses damaged or diseased parts of the ear by directly stimulating the auditory nerve, which is connected to the brain.
Researchers surveyed 88 families of children with cochlear implants, including parents. They compared the responses with normal-hearing peers in two age groups: 8- to 11 year-olds and 12- to 16-year-olds. Quality-of-life factors assessed included physical, mental, and emotional health; self-esteem; relationships with family and friends; and school performance. The younger cochlear implant recipients rated overall quality of life more positively than the older children, although this finding might simply reflect greater adolescent angst, Dr. Loy said.
The results also confirmed that parents were generally accurate in gauging their child's perception of quality of life, although they slightly overestimated the satisfaction levels at school for older children.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (F.D. A.), approximately 1 88,000 people worldwide had received cochlear implants as of 2009. In the United States, roughly 41,500 adults and 25,500 children have received them.
(Source: Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, February 2010.)