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House Ear Institute and Cochlear Americas Partner to Offer At-Home Auditory Rehabilitation Tool

for Cochlear Implant Recipients

Los Angeles and Denver January 25, 2005 House Ear Institute (HEI) and Cochlear Americas announced today that a new auditory rehabilitation tool for cochlear implant recipients is now available. Sound and Beyond', which is designed to allow cochlear implant patients to practice and develop their listening skills at their own pace and convenience, provides comprehensive speech training tools that recipients can use at home or in conjunction with auditory rehabilitation from a clinical speech pathologist. The Sound and Beyond' program is based on computer-assisted speech training (CAST) software developed at the House Ear Institute and TigerSpeech Technology, Inc.

While cochlear implants have helped many deaf patients hear, listening via electric stimulation is a new experience for implant patients, especially for congenitally deafened individuals. For some patients, an extensive learning period involving intensive aural rehabilitation with a speech pathologist may be required for successful implant use. Unfortunately, not all implant patients have regular or extended access to a speech pathologist and few auditory rehabilitation tools are available for use at home. Sound and Beyond', which is the commercial release of a computer-based training program first developed by HEI researcher Qian-Jie Fu, Ph.D., is designed to meet this need.

Weve seen that a comprehensive rehabilitation program makes a great difference in the level of confidence and success experienced by cochlear implant patients, and we wanted to ensure there was no gap in the continuity of rehabilitation for any implant patients, said Qian-Jie Fu, Ph.D., Department of Auditory Implants and Perception, HEI. Our goal in developing this program was to provide all implant patients with an easy-access, user-friendly tool for self-directed study and a long-term method for building upon the guidance they receive from a clinical speech pathologist.

Dr. Fu recently conducted a study to examine whether the speech recognition performance of adult cochlear implant patients could be improved with moderate auditory training, regardless of how long theyd been using their implant. In the study, implant patients trained at home using the original CAST software up to two hours daily, five days per week, for one month or longer. Similar to Sound and Beyond', the CAST training software included a wide range of listening and training tasks that allowed the user to match a sound to one of several images, words or sentences; adjust the level of difficulty to match the users developing listening skills; provide auditory feedback during the test so listeners could gauge progress and self-correct; and share test and training data with their clinicians or therapists for further advice and guidance.

Results showed that speech recognition performance for all participants in the study significantly improved after this type of training. The results also demonstrated that for cochlear implant patients seeking to improve their speech perception performance, a computer-based auditory rehabilitation tool like Sound and Beyond' could be an effective approach. This project was funded in part with Federal funds from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), National Institutes of Health (NIH), grant no. R01-DC-004792.

Chris Smith, president, Cochlear Americas, added, Were extremely excited about the new opportunities that this product will afford cochlear implant recipients. The release of Sound and Beyond' exemplifies Cochlear's lifetime commitment to the hearing-impaired community by harnessing the good science of similarly-dedicated people at HEI to provide improved rehabilitation options to the cochlear implant population.

About the House Ear Institute

The House Ear Institute (HEI) is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to advancing hearing science through research and education to improve quality of life. Established in 1946 by Howard P. House, M.D., the House Ear Institute has been engaged in the scientific exploration of the auditory system from the ear canal to the cortex of the brain for nearly 60 years. HEI scientists continue to explore the developing ear and ear diseases at the cell and molecular level, as well as the complex ear-brain interaction. They are also working to improve hearing aids and auditory implants, diagnostics, clinical treatments, tests and intervention methods. 

About Cochlear Americas

For more than 20 years, Cochlear Americas has been focused on bringing the miracle of sound to those individuals who live in silence. To date, more than 60,000 profoundly deaf individuals have benefited from Cochlear's Nucleus line of cochlear implants. The Company's promise of Hear now. And Always exemplifies its commitment to advancing hearing technology and customer support, which has resulted in numerous awards including the 2001 Medical Design Excellence Award for its design of the Nucleus 24 Contour' cochlear implant and the FDA Commissioners Special Citation for the development and commercialization of the Nucleus 24 Multichannel Auditory Brainstem Implant. 

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