TRI Publications

Outcomes for Children with Deaf-Blindness with Cochlear Implants: A Multisite Observational Study

Author(s) Susan Wiley, Jareen Meinzen-Derr, Kat Stremel-Thomas, Mark Schalock, Susan Bashinkse, & Charlotte Ruder.
Date November 30, 2013
Published in Otology and Neurology, 34(3)
Citation Wiley, S., Meinzen-Derr, J., Stremel-Thomas, K., Schalock, M., Bashinski, S.M. and Ruder, C. (2013). Outcomes for children with deaf-blindness with cochlear implants: A multisite observational study. Otology and Neurology, 34(3), pp. 507-515.


Introduction: Children with dual sensory impairments are receiving cochlear implants; however, little is known regarding their language outcomes. Materials and Methods: Children between the ages of 6 months and 8 years with dual sensory impairment and cochlear implant(s) were recruited from across the United States to participate in an evaluation of language skills using the Reynell-Zinkin Developmental Scales, a tool validated on children with vision impairment and adapted for children with hearing loss. Basic demographic information was also collected from care givers. Results: Ninety-one children completed assessments after implantation. For receptive language abilities, 32% of children obtained a level of sound detection, 15% obtained the ability to understand simple words, 21% could identify words, 5% could follow simple directions, and 22% could follow directions related to the functional use of objects. Four children had no response to sound after cochlear implantation. For expressive language abilities, 49% only had sound production skills, 9% could jargon, 18% could communicate with some words, 12% could communicate with simple sentences, and 12% could communicate with complex sentences. Children with lower developmental ages (or quotients) tended to obtain lower level expressive language skills such as sound production and jargoning. Developmental abilities, rather than age at implant, were the most robust predictor associated with outcomes. Discussion: This information can guide cochlear implant centers when discussing outcomes with families in the cochlear implant candidacy process. There is great heterogeneity in outcomes and caution should be used in discussing possible language outcomes for children with dual sensory impairments.

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