Hearing Aid Use and Auditory Verbal Therapy Improve Voice Quality of Deaf Children
Background: Adequate phonation is self-regulated by auditory feedback. Children with bilateral profound hearing loss (PHL) lack this feedback resulting in abnormal voice. Adequate hearing aid use and auditory-verbal therapy (AVT) may improve voice quality in deaf children. Objective: To study whether hearing aid use and AVT approach improve acoustic parameters of voice of children with bilateral PHL. Materials and methods: Nineteen children with bilateral PHL were studied. Age range 2–5 years (X = 53.04 months; SD = 9.54). All children were fitted with hearing aids according to auditory testing and they underwent a 1-year auditory habilitation period using the AVT approach. Acoustic analysis of voice including F0, shimmer, and jitter was performed at the onset and at the end of the auditory habilitation period. Final acoustic data were compared to a matched control group of 19 children, age range 2–5 years (X = 52.85; SD = 9.74) with normal hearing. Results: Mean fundamental frequency (F0) was significantly increased after AVT intervention. Shimmer and jitter significantly (P < 0.05) improved after the intervention period. However, despite the improvements, mean F0 at the end of the intervention period was still significantly (P < 0.05) decreased as compared to controls. Also, mean shimmer and jitter at the end of the habilitation period were still significantly (P < 0.05) higher as compared to controls. Conclusions: The results of this preliminary study suggest that hearing aid use and auditory habilitation with AVT approach improved acoustic voice parameters of children with PHL. However, acoustic parameters persisted abnormal as compared to matched normal hearing controls. AVT approach and regular hearing aid use seem to be safe and reliable clinical tools for improving voice quality of children with PFL.