Advantages of binaural hearing provided through bimodal stimulation via a cochlear implant and a conventional hearing aid: a 6-month comparative study

C Morera, M Manrique, A Ramos, L Garcia-Ibanez, L Cavalle, A Huarte, C Castillo, E Estrada
Acta Oto-laryngologica 2005, 125 (6): 596-606

CONCLUSIONS: Our study data demonstrate the additional benefit derived from continued use of a contralateral hearing aid (HA) post-cochlear implantation for speech recognition ability in quiet and in noise. Postoperative bimodal stimulation is recommended for all subjects who show some speech recognition ability in the contralateral ear as it may offer binaural listening advantages in various listening situations encountered in everyday life.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the benefits derived from bimodal stimulation for experienced HA users implanted with a cochlear implant (CI) (score=20% in disyllabic test). The correlation between pre- and postoperative performance on speech perception measures was examined to determine additional criteria for recommending bimodal stimulation postoperatively.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: A within-subject repeated-measures design was used, with each subject acting as their own control. Assessments were carried out preoperatively in aided monaural and best-aided conditions and at 6 months postoperatively in CI-alone, contralateral HA-alone and bimodal listening conditions. Speech recognition using Spanish words and sentences materials was assessed at conversational level and for soft speech in quiet. Speech comprehension in noise was assessed using word materials at a signal:noise ratio of +10, for coincident speech in noise and for spatially separated speech in noise. Twelve adult native Spanish subjects with a severe-to-profound hearing impairment who were experienced with optimally fitted conventional amplification and who displayed suboptimal speech understanding preoperatively were enrolled in the study. Preoperatively, conventional amplification was worn by five subjects binaurally and by seven monaurally.

RESULTS: Postoperatively, superior speech recognition ability in quiet and in noise for disyllabic words was achieved using bimodal stimulation in comparison to performance for either monaural aided condition. Mean improvement in speech recognition in the bimodal condition was significant over performance in the CI-alone condition for disyllabic words in quiet at 70 (p=0.006) and 55 dB SPL (p=0.028), for disyllabic words in noise at +10 dB with speech and noise spatially separated with the noise source closest to the contralateral HA (S0NHA) (p=0.0005) and when the noise source was closest to the CI ear (S0NCI) (p=0.002). When testing word recognition in noise with speech and noise sources coincident in space, word scores were superior in the bimodal condition relative to the CI-alone condition but this improvement was not significant (p=0.07). The advantages of bimodal stimulation included significant effects of binaural summation in quiet and significant binaural squelch effects in both the S0NHA and S0NCI test conditions. All subjects showed superior performance in the binaural situation postoperatively relative to the best-aided condition preoperatively for one or more test situations.

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