For children with bilateral severe-to-profound hearing loss who are candidates for cochlear implants, unilateral cochlear implantation is always better than no implantation. But a bilateral cochlear implantation is generally recommended and gives the best results in terms of both hearing and speech abilities.
An American study has confirmed that bilateral cochlear implantation results in better language outcomes than a unilateral implantation.
Bilateral better than unilateral
In the study, children who received bilateral cochlear implantation performed significantly higher on measures of receptive and expressive language than those with a unilateral implantation. The study found that preschool aged children with bilateral cochlear implants outperformed their peers with unilateral implants on receptive and expressive language measures, even when controlling for age at first implantation and age at testing.
The authors write that their study demonstrates that bilateral implantation has a significant, positive impact on receptive and expressive aspects of language development and that bilateral cochlear implantation should be strongly considered as standard practice for children with bilateral severe-to-profound hearing loss.
The study also recommends that families with children with bilateral severe-to-profound hearing loss should be advised that language outcomes are better with bilateral cochlear implantation than with unilateral implantation.
About the study
The purpose of the study was to determine the impact of unilateral versus bilateral cochlear implantation on receptive and expressive spoken language outcomes.
A total of 204 children were included in the study. 105 children received a bilateral cochlear implantation and 99 received a unilateral implantation. The study included children with bilateral severe-to-profound hearing loss who received their first cochlear implant under the age of 3 years and were tested on measures of receptive and expressive language between the ages of 3 and 5 years.
The study, "The impact of unilateral, simultaneous, or sequential cochlear implantation on paediatric language outcomes", was published in the journal Cochlear Implants International.
Sources: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov and the journal Cochlear Implants International.