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Deaf children with cochlear implants report the same quality of life as hearing kids

Posted Mar 12 2010 11:20am

Profoundly deaf children with cochlear implants rate their quality of life equal to their normal-hearing peers, according to new research by auditory specialists from UT Southwestern Medical Center.

In addition, the earlier a child is implanted with a cochlear device and the longer he or she wears the device, the better overall quality of life the child reports and the more successful the child is in school, according to the findings, published in the February issue of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery.

"Wearing cochlear implants doesn't seem to create greater psychosocial problems overall for their users," said Dr. Betty Loy, clinical research manager in the Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery and lead author of the study.

Researchers surveyed 88 families of children with cochlear implants, including parents. They then compared the responses with hearing peers in two age groups: 8 to 11-year-olds and 12 to 16-year-olds. Quality-of-life factors assessed included physical, mental and emotional health; self-esteem; relationships with family and friends; and school performance.

Researchers found that younger cochlear implant recipients rated overall quality of life more positively than those who were in the older age group, although that may simply reflect greater adolescent angst, Dr. Loy said.

The survey results also confirmed that parents are generally accurate in gauging their child's perception of quality of life, although they slightly overestimated the satisfaction levels at school for older children.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, approximately 188,000 people worldwide have cochlear implants as of 2009.

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