Essential to outcomes with a Cochlear Implant (CI) is how the device’s external part, 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 is optimal for all CI users.

Currently, 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 are often used without the exploration of other options. This eliminates individualized optimization to achieve the greatest performance. This trend is exacerbated by non-scientific factors such as limited manpower and clinic resources as well as low reimbursement for audiology services.

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 will allow CI users to control the device’s programming, enabling them to explore a wider range of programming parameters.

When individual customization is achieved to maximize performance with less time from audiologists, this will also open the door for user-driven customization of other types of hearing devices in the future. This gives consumers with hearing loss greater control over their use of technology.

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Project R2: User-driven customization of cochlear implant programming

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