Changes in psychophysical parameters during the first month of programming the nucleus contour and contour advance cochlear implants.
Information regarding typical changes in electrical stimulation levels during different stages post-implantation in children is scarce. Clinically, this information can serve as a general guideline to the nature and frequency of these changes, and consequently help to determine programming schedules that would optimize performance with the implant. Furthermore, it may have implications for the design of cochlear implants, and for monitoring the condition of the implanted cochlea. The main goal of the present study was, therefore, to evaluate changes over time in psycho-electric parameters, i.e. threshold levels, comfortable levels, and dynamic range, in children with the Nucleus 22 cochlear implant system. The maps of 37 prelingual children were examined at five time intervals: 1, 6, 12, 18 and 24 months post-connection. Maps were analyzed according to three cochlear segments: basal, medial, and apical. The results indicated significant changes in the psycho-electric parameters during the first 2 years post-implantation. Specifically, threshold (T) levels increased significantly during the first year and stabilized during the second year, whereas comfort (C) levels and dynamic range (DR) increased significantly during the entire 2-year follow-up. In addition, psycho-electric parameters varied among the different cochlear segments, resulting in a narrower DR in the basal one. Regardless of the underlying cause for these changes, the results of the present study suggest that, in children, the stabilization of psycho-electric parameters is a prolonged, gradual process. Since psycho-electric parameters play an important role in speech perception, these findings emphasize the need for frequent programming in the first 2 years of implant use in children.