by Matt Maciejewski
Statement of the Issue
Hannah, Holly and former UNC audiology fellow Laura at the Children’s Cochlear Implant Center at UNC have published a new study that describes things for families to think about if they are considering a cochlear implant for their child with single-sided deafness. Single-sided deafness occurs when a child has normal or near-normal hearing in one ear but significant hearing loss in the other ear. Medical staff refer to this as unilateral hearing loss. Unilateral hearing loss isn’t common (as high as 3% in school-age children) but hearing aids aren’t a perfect solution for children who have severe single-sided deafness.
Summarize What Research Found
This study followed 5 children between the ages of 2 and 9 whose families reported that they had a hard time hearing in noisy situations and localizing with only one hearing ear. After getting the cochlear implant, parents were happy to report that their children had an easier time hearing in noisy situations, enjoyed listening to music and were more engaged in social situations with other children.
How/Why this Research Matters to Families
If you have a child with severe unilateral hearing loss and a hearing aid does not help then this research suggests that he or she may do well with a cochlear implant. This is not a “typical” use of a cochlear implant and therefore not all insurance companies will cover the cost. The good news: the promising results found with this group of children encouraged clinicians at UNC to develop a study that funds the costs of surgery for 20 children between the ages of 3.5 to 6.5.
To learn more about this study, go to: