Relationships between NHS and age at Hearing-Aid and Cochlear Implant fitting, and their impact on Communication Outcomes for Children within the Victorian context

Dr Shani Dettman1,2,3, Ms Dawn Choo1,2,3, Dr Jaime Leigh1,3, Ms Denise Courtenay3, Ms  Sandra Lettieri3, Ms Gabrielle Traeger3, Ms Sylvia Tari3, Ms Alex Rousset3, Professor Richard Dowell1,2,3

1The University Of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia,

2The HEARing CRC, Carlton, Australia,

3Cochlear Implant Clinic, RVEEH, East Melbourne, Australia

Between 1985 and 2016, 1000 children have received their first cochlear implant at the Melbourne paediatric program at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. This study examined the mean age of hearing aid (HA) fitting and cochlear implant (CI) surgery, and categorized all available speech perception outcomes (using CAP; Archbold et al., 1995; CAPI; Black et al., 2014) and language outcomes (CLIP; Dettman et al., 2016) for groups that were pre- and post- Newborn Hearing Screening (NHS) implementation. Five time periods were defined using Wake, Ching Wirth et al., (2016), cross referenced against other presentations/publications. Using each child’s date of birth, data were sorted into either Group 1: Pre-NHS (n=174), Group 2: Victoria Infant Hearing Screening Program (VIHSP) and a small number of other services (n=299), Group 3; VIHSP or one of four Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) (n=61), Group 4: Transition from Group 3 to universal NHS (n=243), and Group 5: Post-NHS (n=112). There were significant decreases in age at HA and CI fitting over time. Within Group 5, children with simultaneous implants (n=54) received their CI(s) at a significantly younger age (mean age at first CI 1.17 years; SD 0.55) compared to children with unilateral CI(s) (n=35; mean age at 1st CI 1.78 years; SD 0.96). There was an inverse relationship between age at implant and CAPI and CLIP outcomes; optimum communication outcomes are seen for cohorts who receive CI(s) earlier. The child and family demographic characteristics associated with simultaneous/unilateral CI(s), and age at implant are discussed.


Dr Shani Dettman worked as a speech pathologist in the Cochlear Implant Clinic (CIC) and researcher at the University of Melbourne from 1987 to 2005. Shani has completed her Masters of Education (UniMelb, 1997), Auditory Verbal Certification (2003) and PhD (UniMelb, 2005). Shani is currently Senior Lecturer (UniMelb) and researcher 1). in collaboration with the VDEI (Educational support for students with significant hearing loss: Policy, Practice and Outcomes) and 2). within the present HEARing Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) Extension. Shani has over 45 scientific publications including; 33 journal articles, 5 book chapters, and over 149 conference papers.