August 19, 2017

August 19, 2017


Grant Will Fund Research in Pediatric Cochlear Implants

Dallas Cochlear Implant Program Seeks 100 Children Between Ages 5 to 8 with Devices for Study

Researchers with the Dallas Cochlear Implant Program recently received federal funding to test the effects of different approaches on hearing habilitation in deaf children using hearing aids or cochlear implants.

The Dallas Cochlear Implant Program is a joint enterprise between the UT Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders, UT Southwestern Medical Center and Children’s Medical Center.

Drs. Emily Tobey and Ann Geers of the School for Behavioral and Brain Sciences will work with researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis on the multi-year project sponsored by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Specifically, they will examine how combinations of cochlear implants and hearing aids influence language development and the ability of patients using these devices to communicate.

“This is one of the first studies to evaluate how a period of hearing aid use may benefit children who receive cochlear implants,” said Tobey, Nelle C. Johnston Chair in Communication Disorders in Children. “Thus, it will serve as an important marker of how our clinical care of children using cochlear implants should be organized.”

Dr. Emily Tobey

Dr. Emily Tobey

Cochlear implants are electronic devices surgically implanted to bypass the sound receptors in the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve. For people whose deafness results from damaged or abnormal receptor cells, these devices restore aspects of hearing or even allow them to hear for the first time. Hearing aids amplify sound as it enters the ear, effectively turning up the volume for the listener. Which device is used depends in large part on the person’s hearing ability, but it is not always clear which device will better suit a patient’s needs.

Studies have shown that the younger a hearing-impaired child receives a cochlear implant, the better for their long-term outcome in language ability. It remains unknown whether having a cochlear implant and a hearing aid or having two cochlear implants works more effectively. Additionally, clinicians don’t yet know if a patient should receive the two cochlear implants in the same surgical session or a few years apart.

To explore this issue, the researchers are recruiting 100 children with cochlear implants between the ages of 5 and 8 to test language abilities with a follow-up exam two years later. Parents interested in participating in the study should contact Tobey at [email protected].

Tobey is an internationally recognized expert on cochlear implants and began with North Texas’ first pediatric cochlear implant patient in 1996.

Media Contact: Ben Porter, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2193, [email protected]
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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