J Am Acad Audiol 2015; 26(04): 393-407
DOI: 10.3766/jaaa.26.4.7
American Academy of Audiology. All rights reserved. (2015) American Academy of Audiology

Evaluation of Hearing Aid Frequency Response Fittings in Pediatric and Young Adult Bimodal Recipients

Lisa S. Davidson
Jill B. Firszt
Chris Brenner
Jamie H. Cadieux
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Publication History

Publication Date:
06 August 2020 (online)

Background: A coordinated fitting of a cochlear implant (CI) and contralateral hearing aid (HA) for bimodal device use should emphasize balanced audibility and loudness across devices. However, guidelines for allocating frequency information to the CI and HA are not well established for the growing population of bimodal recipients.

Purpose: The study aim was to compare the effects of three different HA frequency responses, when fitting a CI and an HA for bimodal use, on speech recognition and localization in children/young adults. Specifically, the three frequency responses were wideband, restricted high frequency, and nonlinear frequency compression (NLFC), which were compared with measures of word recognition in quiet, sentence recognition in noise, talker discrimination, and sound localization.

Research Design: The HA frequency responses were evaluated using an A B1 A B2 test design: wideband frequency response (baseline-A), restricted high-frequency response (experimental-B1), and NLFC-activated (experimental-B 2 ). All participants were allowed 3–4 weeks between each test session for acclimatization to each new HA setting. Bimodal benefit was determined by comparing the bimodal score to the CI-alone score.

Study Sample: Participants were 14 children and young adults (ages 7–21 yr) who were experienced users of bimodal devices. All had been unilaterally implanted with a Nucleus CI24 internal system and used either a Freedom or CP810 speech processor. All received a Phonak Naida IX UP behind-the-ear HA at the beginning of the study.

Data Collection and Analysis: Group results for the three bimodal conditions (HA frequency response with wideband, restricted high frequency, and NLFC) on each outcome measure were analyzed using a repeated measures analysis of variance. Group results using the individual “best bimodal” score were analyzed and confirmed using a resampling procedure. Correlation analyses examined the effects of audibility (aided and unaided hearing) in each bimodal condition for each outcome measure. Individual data were analyzed for word recognition in quiet, sentence recognition in noise, and localization. Individual preference for the three bimodal conditions was also assessed.

Results: Group data revealed no significant difference between the three bimodal conditions for word recognition in quiet, sentence recognition in noise, and talker discrimination. However, group data for the localization measure revealed that both wideband and NLFC resulted in significantly improved bimodal performance. The condition that yielded the “best bimodal” score varied across participants. Because of this individual variability, the “best bimodal” score was chosen for each participant to reassess group data within word recognition in quiet, sentence recognition in noise, and talker discrimination. This method revealed a bimodal benefit for word recognition in quiet after a randomization test was used to confirm significance. The majority of the participants preferred NLFC at the conclusion of the study, although a few preferred a restricted high-frequency response or reported no preference.

Conclusions: These results support consideration of restricted high-frequency and NLFC HA responses in addition to traditional wideband response for bimodal device users.