Conventional hearing aid circuitry is often unable to provide children with hearing loss with sufficient high frequency information in order to develop adequate oral language skills due to the risk of acoustic feedback and the narrower frequency spectrum of conventional amplification. The purpose of this study was to investigate word recognition abilities of children with moderate-to-severe hearing loss using hearing aids with linear frequency transposition. Seven children with moderate-to-severe sensorineural hearing loss between the ages of 5 years 0 months and 7 years 11 months were selected for the participant group. Word recognition assessments were first performed with the participants using their own previous generation digital signal processing hearing aids. Twenty-five-word lists from the Word Intelligibility by Picture Identification (WIPI) test were presented to the participants in three test conditions, namely: at 55 dB HL in quiet, 55 dB HL with a +5 dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and at 35 dB HL. The participants were then fitted with an ISP-based hearing aid without linear frequency transposition, and the word recognition assessments were repeated with different WIPI word lists under the same conditions as the first assessment. Linear frequency transposition was then activated in the ISP-based hearing aid and different WIPI word lists were presented once more under identical conditions as the previous assessments. A 12-day acclimatization period was allowed between assessments, and all fittings were verified according to the DSL v5 fitting algorithm. Results indicated a significant increase of more than 12% in word recognition score for some of the participants when they used the ISP-based hearing aid with linear frequency transposition. A significant decrease was also seen for some of the participants when they used the ISP-based hearing aid with linear frequency transposition, but all participants presented with better word recognition scores when they used the ISP-based hearing aids without linear frequency transposition compared to their previous generation digital signal processing hearing aids. This study has shown that linear frequency transposition may improve the word recognition skills of some children with moderate-to-severe sensorineural hearing loss, and more research is needed to explore the criteria that can be used to determine candidacy for linear frequency transposition.
Dissertation (MCommunication Pathology)--University of Pretoria, 2010.