Study examines impact of cochlear implants

Opposition to cochlear implantation for children within the deaf community appears to be diminishing, according to an article in the May issue of The Archives of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, a theme issue on pediatric cochlear implants and one of the JAMA/Archives journals. 
 
Two Gallaudet faculty members – John B. Christiansen, Ph.D., and Irene W. Leigh, Ph.D. – spearheaded the study, marking the changing attitudes of parents of the deaf community and parents of deaf children regarding pediatric cochlear implantation.

Cochlear implants are small electronic devices that are surgically implanted in the ear, aiding those deaf people not helped by traditional hearing aids. Approximately 90 percent of parents who have deaf children are not deaf, and generally have had little, if any, experience with deaf persons or understanding of deafness.  However, perceptions may be changing, partially due to new research on the implants, the article states.

The researchers combined the data from two studies: the first study (by the Gallaudet University Research Institute – the GRI survey) was conducted in the spring of 1999 and included the results of 439 questionnaires filled out by parents of children with cochlear implants.  The second study consisted of 56 interviews with parents of 62 children with implants (and one without).  The children represented by the studies ranged in age from two to 20 years old, and were between 15 months and 17 years when implanted.

“Clearly, many people in the deaf community, including faculty, staff, students and alumni at Gallaudet University, are much more open minded about cochlear implants today than they were five or 10 years ago, although some still question pediatric implants,” the authors explain."

Although support for cochlear implants is growing, families must remain steadfast in reaching a solution that suits all involved, the authors warn.

“To ensure optimal use of the cochlear implant, parents need to remain involved in their child’s social and educational development,” the researchers stated. http://www.gallaudet.edu

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