Tobias Busch promoveerde op 2 april 2019 aan de KULeuven (B) met zijn
proefschirft: "Using Data Logs to capture the auditory environment of children with cochlear implants"
Engelstalige samentvaating van het proefschrift van Tobia Busch: "Using Data Logs to Capture the Auditory Environment of Children with Cochlear Implants"
With a cochlear implant (CI), children who are deaf can gain access to sound and achieve spoken language outcomes that are comparable to those of their normal hearing peers. There is, however, large variation in the rehabilitation outcomes, and many of these children have problems with spoken language development.
One potential cause of the variation in language outcomes are interindividual differences in the children’s daily auditory environments. The auditory environment of children with CIs can—to an extent—be captured with CI data logs. These data logs can register how long children use their CIs and how much they are exposed to different auditory environments, such as speech or noise.
Such information might be useful for improving the rehabilitation of children with a CI, because it could help to understand the challenges that CI users face in their daily life, predict rehabilitation outcomes, and support intervention. The goal of this doctoral project was to explore this potential of CI data logs for assessing and optimizing the auditory rehabilitation of children with CIs. This goal was addressed in three steps:
-To investigate whether data logs can help to understand the daily experience of CI users, we analyzed data logs from 1,501 CI users of all ages. Using this data set, we illustrated the typical auditory environment of CI users from different age groups, and the variation between individual users’ environments. This study is presented in chapter 2.
-To test whether the information that is captured in the data logs is correlated with rehabilitation outcomes—particularly those of children—, we analyzed a cross-sectional data set of language tests and data logs from pediatric CI users. We found that, even when controlling for other important covariates, the information in the CI data logs explained some of the variance in the children’s language performance. This study is presented in chapter 3.
-Finally, we took a close look at Lena, a tool that can record a child’s natural auditory environment in more detail and with higher accuracy than CI data logs. Unlike data logs, Lena provides estimates of various features of the language in the child’s environment, such as the amount of words it has heard, or the number of conversational turns it was involved in. We were interested in validating Lena for two reasons: First, we wanted to know how well Lena performs with Dutch language recordings; Second, we wanted to use its performance as a benchmark for possible future extension of CI data logging. The results of this validation study are presented in chapter 4.
We conclude that CI data logs have the potential to understand the auditory environment of children with CIs, and that such information can be used to improve their rehabilitation outcomes. Yet, improvements should be made to the system, especially with regard to capturing the language that is addressed to the child, but also regarding the way that the data is presented to stakeholders. Such possible future directions are discussed in chapter 5.