The aim was to measure the rate of vocabulary acquisition for cochlear implant users and compare the pre- and postoperative rates with published data for other groups with normal or impaired hearing. The hypothesis was that the postoperative rate would be greater than the preoperative rate.
The Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) was administered to 32 children, adolescents, and prelinguistically deafened adults implanted with the 22-electrode cochlear implant. Age at implantation ranged from 2 yr 6 mo to 20 yr and implant use ranged from 6 mo to 7 yr 8 mo.
The group mean postoperative performance at various postoperative intervals was significantly higher than mean preoperative performance. Single-subject data indicated statistically significant gains over time on this test for 13 of the subjects. The mean postoperative rate of vocabulary acquisition of 1.06 times the rate for normally hearing children was significantly greater than the mean preoperative rate of 0.43.
These rates of improvement were in accord with previous reports on smaller numbers of implant users, but could not be attributed unambiguously to use of the implant because no control group was used for this clinical work. Variables such as age at implantation, duration of profound deafness, communication mode, and speech perception skill failed to significantly predict rate of improvement on the PPVT.