29 July 2013

Training can improve hearing skills in children with hearing loss

Auditory training programs can increase the listening skills of hearing impaired children by approximately 50% in a noisy environment, a report shows.
Training can improve hearing skills in children with hearing loss

In a study, 24 children and adolescents between the ages of 6 and 17 demonstrated a 50% progression in their comprehension of sound in noisy surroundings. The hearing increase occurred after the youngsters had attended seven one-hour sessions during a three week period.

The benefits of training were retained

According to the University of Washington, these findings are among the first to demonstrate that auditory training with noise can work in children. Moreover, the effects of the training were still evident in most children when they were tested three months after the training ended.

“It was better than I expected, so I ran my stats at least four or five times to make sure that was actually what we found. And it was,” said Jessica Sullivan, lead author and Assistant professor of speech and hearing sciences at University of Washington.

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“The maintenance of the improvement is a truly significant finding. It indicates that new hearing and listening strategies have been developed to detect speech despite noise,” Sullivan further said about the surprising implications of the study.

Learning how to filter out background noise.

People suffering from a hearing loss are generally slower to take in sound and less effective in the processing of auditory information.

The main objective of the training program in the study was therefore to train the children's brains to filter out background noise and hereby improve their listening skills.

The training involved listening to numerous sentences such as “We saw two brown bears” or “Grandmother gave Bob red beans”, masked by sounds similar to a noisy classroom.

As the exercises progressed, researchers increased the noise volume, the number of words in sentences and the time between hearing the sentence and identifying what words were said.

More research to be carried out

In the future, more research will be conducted to find out how the training works for others, such as adults and cochlear-implant users.

Also, other types of noise, including real-world settings, will be used to uncover the effects of the training program in different surroundings.



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