Speech perception outcomes of 5-year-old children using hearing aids or cochlear implants: findings of the LOCHI study (Outcomes Symposium paper 3)

Dr Teresa YC Ching1,2, Dr Vicky ZHANG1,2, Patricia Van Buynder1, the LOCHI team1,2

1National Acoustic Laboratories, Macquarie University, Australia,

2HEARing CRC, Australia

We propose a series of 4 papers to feature in a Symposium on Improving outcomes for children through early detection and intervention. All papers draw on data from the Longitudinal Outcomes of Children with Hearing Impairment (LOCHI) study to shed light on children’s abilities and parents’ perspectives.

Objective: The aims of this study were to report on the speech perception in noise in 5-year-old with hearing loss; and to determine the factors associated with the speech perception outcomes, separately for children using hearing aids (HAs) and cochlear implants (CI).

Methods: Participants were 224 children enrolled in the Longitudinal Outcomes of Children with Hearing Impairment (LOCHI) study. All children received their first HAs or CIs before 3 years of age. Speech reception thresholds (SRTs) for 50% correct perception of words or sentences were measured by presenting speech from a loudspeaker positioned at 0° azimuth, and babble from either the same loudspeaker (S0N0) or from two loudspeakers positioned at the sides (S0N±90). The difference in SRTs between the two test conditions gives a measure of spatial release from masking (SRM).

Results:  On average, the mean SRTs in the S0N0 and S0N±90 conditions were 6.9 dB (SD 3.8) and 3.6 dB (SD 4.2) for children using CIs; and 4.0 dB (SD 3.2) and 1.4 dB (SD 3.8) for children using HAs respectively. Compared to normal-hearing children, children with hearing loss required a better signal-to-noise ratio to achieve a similar level of performance. The SRM was around 3 dB for both groups, comparable to that for normal-hearing children. Regression analyses showed that better speech perception was associated with better language ability for both groups. In children using CIs, earlier age at implantation was associated with better outcomes.

Conclusions: Early intervention was effective in improving speech perception for children using CIs.


Trish is a Research Audiologist who commenced work with the National Acoustic Laboratories in 2004. Prior to this Trish worked clinically as a paediatric audiologist with Australian Hearing performing diagnosis, hearing assessment and rehabilitation.

Trish works as part of NAL’s rehabilitation procedures team. Her main areas of work include amplification and outcomes in children with hearing loss and the impact of unilateral hearing loss in children.