Bio René H. Gifford, Ph.D, CCC-A, is a Professor in the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences and holds the Fred H. Bess Chair in Audiology. Rene is an active clinician-scientist whose research focuses on the study of auditory perception, spatial hearing, and binaural development for children and adults using combined electric and acoustic stimulation (EAS) via hearing aid and cochlear implant technology. Her primary professional goal is centered on improving auditory-based outcomes and ensuring that we are using data-driven recommendations for hearing and speech/language intervention for all individuals across the lifespan. Dr. Gifford’s research has been funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) for over 20 years, she has published over 140 peer-reviewed articles, multiple book chapters, and two books. Most importantly, however, she and her spouse, Branden, are parents to three sons and they all enjoy golfing, hiking, and travel.
Summary Bilateral cochlear implants (CIs) are the standard of care intervention for children with bilateral severe-to-profound sensorineural hearing loss. However, research has shown that having an early period of bimodal stimulation—combining a CI with contralateral hearing aid (HA)—is associated with higher levels of speech understanding, vocabulary, and language. These data are leading clinicians to recommend bimodal hearing for children even though HA audibility is generally poorer than that offered by a CI which can result in interaural asymmetry in speech perception, head shadow, as well as auditory brainstem and cortical activity. Furthermore, there is increasing evidence that bilateral CIs yield superior outcomes for a variety of auditory, language, and academic skills. In the absence of definitive clinical evidence driving recommendations for bimodal versus bilateral CI candidacy in children, clinicians may be reluctant to recommend a second CI for children with residual acoustic hearing. In this presentation, we will describe speech perception, spatial hearing abilities, and language outcomes for children using bimodal hearing as compared to children with bilateral CIs and will provide clinical data to help guide clinical recommendations.