Sanja Spiric, Dmitar Traver, Slobodan Spremo, Predrag Spiric and Mirjana Gnjatic
Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of age on speech perception in children implanted before 5 years of age over the first 3 years after surgery.
Material and Methods: A total of 31 children are divided into 2 groups; 12 were implanted before 2 and 19 implanted between 3 and 5 years of age. Assessment battery designed to measure speech perception was used to evaluate recipients at 12, 24 and 36 months after implantation. We used the following tests: 1. Closed and open-set for monosyllabic and polysyllabic words in quiet and noise 2 and Open-set sentence in quiet. Testing was performed with recorded voice in free field.
Results: The mean value on the open-set for monosyllabic words for all patients increased with time. The difference between the values for each group at 12, 24 and 36 months was significant (p<0.001). As duration of cochlear implant use increased, speech perception also improved. The mean value on the open-set with polysyllabic words at 36 months for all patients (82.7%) was significantly higher than the mean value at 24 months (77.2%) (p=0.10). The mean value for this parameter at 36 months in children aged 3 to 5 years of age (82.1%) was significantly higher than the mean value at 24 months (74.2%) (p=0.08). Improvement in speech perception is faster if implantation occurs at a younger before 2 years of age.
Conclusion: Age at time of implantation has a positive effect on speech perception, especially in situations such as background noise. Children implanted before 2 years of age have faster improvement in speech perception. Those who are implanted between 3 and 5 years of age showed delay 2 years postoperatively and significant improvement after this time. Three years after cochlear implantation there was no significant differences among them.