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Language is the essential medium for human communication and is closely related to hearing. A restriction of speech/hearing ability carries the risk of social withdrawal for the patients. Measures that serve to maintain or restore the ability to communicate thus make a contribution to social inclusion.

The gold standard in the treatment of profoundly hearing impaired or deaf patients is the provision with a cochlear implant (CI), a hearing prosthesis that directly electrically stimulates the auditory nerve. After implantation of a CI, patients can perceive sound again (or for the first time at all). In order to enable the patient to successfully communicate acoustically, the hearing and understanding of speech must be specifically (re)learned.

People who are born deaf or become deaf during language acquisition in their early years do not perceive their own voice the way people with healthy hearing do. However, since this so-called auditory feedback of one's own voice is important in language development in order to achieve correct and good pronunciation, it is often the case that the distorted perception of one's own voice leads to pronunciation problems. After the operation and fitting, CI patients undergo speech therapy in order to practice their own speech as well as the new electric hearing. The success of the speech and hearing training depends decisively on the quality of care, but also on the motivation of those affected.

The aim of the THERESIAH project is to develop a digital system for hearing and pronunciation training to support therapy after treatment with CIs or hearing aids for the profoundly hearing impaired. The system should offer patients the possibility to perform exercises independently and with a high training frequency, e.g., at home or away from clinical therapy times. At the same time, physicians and speech therapists are supported in (postoperative) clinical therapy by new objective diagnostic functions and by data logging of the course of therapy. The comprehensive digital system to be developed in the project comprises software modules for pronunciation evaluation and for carrying out listening and speaking exercises, based on a PC or tablet PC with headset and connection of an electromyograph (EMG) as well as a special,  self-adapting linguistic training progra

Funding

Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)

Project partners

HörTech gGmbH (Dr. Jörg-Hendrik Bach, Dr. Markus Meis)

Projektgruppe Hör-, Sprach- und Audiotechnologie - Fraunhofer IDMT (Dr. Stefan Goetze)

Evangelisches Krankenhaus Oldenburg (Dr. Andreas Radeloff)

Hochschule für Gesundheit Bochum (Prof. Kerstin Bilda)

Project duration

February 2018 to January 2021