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Voice Control Needs Time to Develop After Cochlear Implant
Date:1/18/2010

But complications can occur years after surgery, researchers find

MONDAY, Jan. 18 (HealthDay News) -- It takes time, but children who receive cochlear implants in both ears gradually learn to control the loudness and pitch of their voices, a new study has found.

Cochlear implants are electronic devices that provide sound to people who are deaf or severely hearing-impaired.

"Although cochlear implants do not restore sound perception as experienced by an individual with normal hearing, the implant provides the user with auditory feedback in the domains of timing, intensity and frequency of sound. These auditory feedback cues may be critical for the user to monitor his or her speech production and to make purposeful moment-to-moment adjustments in voicing," wrote Dr. Theresa Holler and colleagues at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada.

The researchers conducted voice assessments of 27 children, aged 3 to 15, who received cochlear implants in both ears. They were compared to children with normal hearing.

Initially, the children with cochlear implants had poor control over the pitch and volume of their voices, compared to children with normal hearing. But voice pitch control improved over the long term as the children with cochlear implants used their hearing aids and had more exposure to hearing.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study to objectively evaluate acoustic voice outcomes in children with bilateral cochlear implants and to report the influence of overall time in sound on acoustic parameters," the researchers wrote.

"Targeted speech therapies that assist children using cochlear implants in monitoring and modifying the pitch and loudness of their voice would be useful in this setting," they concluded. "Future work is planned to develop and evaluate therapeutic tools that will specifically address these areas in implant recipients, with the objective of minimizin
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