For many of the roughly 36 million American adults with some degree of hearing loss, a hearing aid does not provide enough help, and a cochlear implant risks permanently losing whatever residual hearing is left.

These people struggle tremendously—particularly in noisy listening environments.

Christopher W. Turner, PhD, a professor of speech pathology and audiology, and otolaryngology – head and neck surgery at the University of Iowa, received an NIH Challenge Grant to conduct his research, Optimizing the Combination of Electric and Acoustic Hearing.

The research is based on preliminary data involving a hybrid cochlear implant designed to preserve acoustic low-frequency hearing while allowing high-frequency sounds to be processed electrically in the same ear. The preliminary research has resulted in significantly improved performance on tests that measure understanding of speech in background noise and enhanced perception of music, says the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), Bethesda, Md.

The NIH Challenge Grants in Health and Science Research are funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. NIH has designated at least $200 million for comparative effectiveness research to perform a rigorous evaluation of the impact of different options available for treating a given medical condition, such as competing drugs, or very different approaches, such as surgery and drug therapy.

For more information, search the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tool, and look for grant number 1RC1DC010696-01.

[Source: NIDCD]