Date Presented 04/22/2023

Children born with sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) are at a higher risk for motor, sensory, and social development delays. This study reveals a gap between what is assessed and treated and the challenges experienced by children with SNHL.

Primary Author and Speaker: Sophie Sherman

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to understand the impact that a new screening process for children with sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) had on those who were identified as at risk for delay in order to enhance cochlear implant (CI) clinic services. Children born with SNHL are at increased risk for delays in motor, sensory, and social skills development, however, few studies have investigated the effectiveness of targeted interventions for this population. In 2021, an enhanced screening process was implemented in the CI clinic at the Medical University of South Carolina (SC). 31 children were evaluated and 20 (64.5%) were identified as at-risk for delay in at least one area of development.

DESIGN: Prospective, mixed methods study. Participants were families of children with SNHL and therapists in SC.

METHOD: Phone interviews were conducted with caregivers of children with SNHL who screened at-risk for delays. Surveys were collected from 1) therapists who received referrals for children with SNHL, and 2) therapists in SC with experience treating children with SNHL. Results were analyzed using descriptive statistics and thematic analysis.

RESULTS: The new screening process led to 13 referrals for OT and PT services. Parents reported it would be beneficial to have more information about the reason for referrals (n=17, 75%). SC therapists (n=35) did not feel their training prepared them for treating children with SNHL and CIs (62.9%). Most frequently reported assessments and treatments were motor (66%) and sensory focused (75.1%), although the highest reported challenges were social engagement (75.1%).

CONCLUSION: The results of this study indicate children with SNHL should be screened for global developmental delays and parents should be provided clear information about the role of OT. Therapists would benefit from training on the unique needs of children with SNHL to shift the focus of assessment and treatment from motor delays to social-emotional needs.


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