Research on Hearing Loss and Reading Skills for Children who had Brain Tumors
According to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, researchers have discovered why severe hearing loss causes children who are survivors of brain tumors, to have difficulty with reading.
An analysis was conducted on 260 children and adolescents who survived a brain tumor. This study included 64 individuals who had severe hearing loss. They were tested on how they performed in their reading skills, which included the speed in which they processed information, their working memory, letter-word identification, and phonological skills (including the capability to use sound units to decipher words).
In comparison to other survivors, children who suffered from severe hearing loss had significant declines while they were treated. Children who had severe hearing loss had the most difficulty with phonological skills and slowed processing speed.
It takes time to learn how to read. Reading is a skill that everyone depends on in order to learn for the rest of their lives.
The study implies that there should be more focus on developing language-based and neurocognitive skills, such as processing speed and phonemics before learning about more complicated things like reading comprehension.
Young children, many under 7 years of age, were specifically susceptible to failing in skills that are essential to become proficient in reading. These children would benefit the most early interventions.
Brain tumors and its Link to Hearing Loss
The most prevalent types of cancer in children are brain and spinal cord tumors. They make up about 1 in 4 newly diagnosed pediatric cancers each year.
According to a recent study by St. Jude’s, 32 percent of patients who have a brain tumor develop severe hearing loss within many years of treatment. Hearing loss may even occur regardless of treatment with a prescription medication, amifostine, which is used to preserve hair cells located in the inner ear that are necessary for hearing.
The study included individuals between the ages of 3 and 21 who had medulloblastoma (a cancerous tumor that begins in the region of the brain closest to the base of the skull) and other embryonal brain tumors. Each patient was part of a research trial and treatment which included surgery, radiation treatment, and chemotherapy. They all received neurocognitive and hearing tests at least twice, in the beginning and during a later point in the treatment.
The test proposed many factors which included nerve damage to a patient’s hearing - that was caused by the tumor - which disrupt reading capabilities for children who survived brain tumors and have severe hearing loss. This implies that there is a possibility to improve a patient’s quality of life by creating more effective interventions.
More research is necessary to discover how and when to get involved to improve a cancer patient’s proficiency in reading. This includes studying how hearing aids may affect reading and neurocognitive skills in young cancer survivors.
Hearing loss can go undetected for longer periods of time. This study emphasizes the need to get your hearing health checked annually, and seek treatment as soon as possible in order to intervene and possibly prevent more health concerns.
If you, or a loved one, are in need of a hearing test, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing Aids.