BACKGROUND : Early cochlear implantation aids auditory feedback and supports better
communication and self-monitoring of the voice. The objective of this study was to determine
whether the age of cochlear implantation has an impact on vocal development in children
implanted before age 4.
METHOD AND PROCEDURES : The study consisted of 19 participants in total. All implant recipients
(experimental group) were 3–5 years post-implantation, including four prelingual (0–2 years)
and five perilingual (2–4 years) implant recipients. The control group consisted of 10 children
whose hearing was within normal limits between the ages 3–6 years and 10 months, which
was compared to the experimental group. Established paediatric norms were used for
additional comparison. A questionnaire was used to gather information from each of the
participant’s caregivers to determine whether other personal and contextual factors had an
impact on voice production. An acoustic analysis was conducted for each participant using the
Multi-Dimensional Voice Program of the Computerized Speech Lab.
RESULTS : When the experimental group and the control group were compared, similar results
were yielded for fundamental frequency and short-term perturbation (jitter and shimmer).
More variability was noted in long-term frequency and amplitude measures, with significantly
higher differences, and therefore further outside the norms, in the prelingual group when
compared to the perilingual and control groups.
CONCLUSION : In this study, age of implantation did not impact vocal characteristics. Further
research should include larger sample sizes, with participants that are age and gender matched.