Research & Scholarly Achievement
at Gallaudet University

Project R2: User-driven customization of cochlear implant programming

ID: 2643
Status: Ongoing
Start date: October 2014
End Date: September 2019


Essential to outcomes with a cochlear implant (CI) is the manner in which the external portion of the device, the speech processor, is programmed. Research has shown that each CI user requires an individualized set of programming parameters to achieve optimal performance. Importantly, no one set of parameters has been found to be optimal for all CI users. Presently, programming the speech processor is typically done heuristically in clinics following a manufacturer-recommended procedure. Given the complexity of the programming space and limited guidance on effective programming protocols, clinicians tend to rely on “default” manufacturer-recommended programming parameters. These default parameters may be used without exploration of other options, eliminating individualized optimization to achieve maximum performance. This trend is exacerbated by non-scientific factors such as limited manpower and clinic resources as well as low reimbursement for audiology services. As a result, individual customization of programming parameters for optimized speech understanding is not being accomplished. In this project, we aim to develop a consumer-driven, user-interface system assisting the programming process. The most notable feature of the proposed system is that it will allow CI users to control the programming of the device themselves and enable them to personally explore a wider range of programming parameters. Consequently, individual customization can be achieved to maximize performance at the individual level with less time from the audiologists. This also opens the door for user-driven customization of other types of hearing devices in the future, thereby giving consumers with hearing loss greater control over their use of technology.

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Kwon, B. J., Holden, L. J., Lopez, B., Holden, T., Cooper, J., & Firszt, J. (2017, July). Self-exploration of MAPs by cochlear implant users. Poster presented at Conference on Implantable Auditory Prostheses, Lake Tahoe, CA.

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