Cochlear Implants Help Young More Than Old

MILWAUKEE, May 19 (UPI) — Cochlear implants benefit older adults with hearing loss, but they help younger patients more, U.S. researchers said.

Dr. David R. Friedland and colleagues at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee studied medical records of patients who received cochlear implants — small electronic devices that help provide a sense of sound to the profoundly deaf or severely hard-of-hearing — at age 65 or older from 1999 to 2008.

Twenty-eight older patients were matched to younger patients getting cochlear implants at ages 18-64 with similar pre-implantation hearing test scores.

One year later, 55 of the 56 total patients showed improvement on hearing testing. However, older patients did worse than younger patients on some speech perception tests at the follow-up.

“One explanation for these results is that the elderly patient may have a prolonged adaptation phase and reach levels attained by younger users at one-year post-implantation at a later point,” the study authors said in a statement. “Alternatively, elderly patients may have inherent limitations in processing the high-rate stimulation paradigms used in current cochlear implants.”

The findings were published Archives of Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery.

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