The study, led by Marloes Sparreboom, M.A., Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, the Netherlands, stresses the importance of collecting information concerning the quality of life of children receiving cochlear implantations, given the lack of previous research on the matter. Countless other studies solely look at speech perception and sound localization, with clinical settings that do not accurately represent a typical everyday environment. The majority of studies indicate that children with bilateral cochlear implants, as opposed to having just one, have better speech perception in noise and sound localization.
A total of 39 children with prelingual deafness were included in the study. Thirty of the children received sequential bilateral cochlear implantation with the average age of the first implant being 1.8 years and the average age for the second implant being 5.3 years. The nine other children had a unilateral (one ear only) cochlear implant. The parents were given generic and disease specific questionnaires to fill out.
For the children with bilateral cochlear implantations, assessments were made before the second implant surgery, after 12 months, and after 24 months of having the second implant. The disease-specific questionnaires revealed that compared to the children with only one implant, those with bilateral implants had measures of quality of life that continued to improve with longer durations of use. The researchers state that the age of the second implantation had little impact on the amount of improvement in quality of life.
The study found sequential bilateral cochlear implantation showed no substantial gain in the generic quality of life.
The researchers explain
"Gains in QoL [quality of life] following bilateral cochlear implantation will predominantly be seen in more disease-specific questionnaires that contain items regarding bilateral hearing. Gains in QoL continued to improve with longer duration of BiCI [bilateral cochlear implant] use. Because generic questionnaires are insensitive to changes in hearing status, gains in QoL as measured by these questionnaires after sequential bilateral cochlear implantation in children may be underestimated."