Beijing, China, January 15, 2009 - Cochlear Limited, West China Hospital and the House Ear Institute have joined forces to commence a landmark project to study the long-term benefits of early cochlear implantation for young deaf children in China.
"This large-scale longitudinal study is the first of its type in China and marks a milestone in the study of cochlear implant outcomes in China," said Sigfrid D. Soli, Ph.D., Head, Laboratory for Human Communication Sciences and Devices, House Ear Institute, and one of the project's co-directors.
The study will be conducted at West China Hospital of Sichuan University in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, over a four year period and will evaluate the development of speech and language abilities in 120 children who receive a cochlear implant before the age of five years. The cochlear implant team at West China Hospital is headed by Prof. Zheng Hong, MD, who will perform the cochlear implant surgeries. The children will be evaluated several times in the first year after implantation, and annually thereafter for three years. It is during this period that language skills develop most rapidly and the foundation for the following important years of education and learning are established.
Separate groups of children with normal hearing, and children with a profound hearing loss who use hearing aids, will also be evaluated on the same longitudinal schedule for comparison purposes.
This research will identify key factors in the early development of speech and language abilities of normal hearing children and of profoundly hearing impaired children who use cochlear implants and those using hearing aids.
"We anticipate that the knowledge gained from this research can lead to improved outcomes in the early treatment of deaf and hearing impaired children throughout China," said Dr. Yun Zheng, MD, Director, Hearing Center, Out-Patient Clinic, West China Hospital, and one of the project's co-directors.
"It is important that we understand the specific outcomes being achieved in China so the cochlear implant program can be tailored appropriately to ensure the best possible results for all children," said Mark Salmon, President Asia Pacific, Cochlear Limited.