Influence of Protective Face Coverings on the Speech Recognition of Cochlear Implant Patients.

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The objectives were to characterize the effects of wearing face coverings on: 1) acoustic speech cues, and 2) speech recognition of patients with hearing loss who listen with a cochlear implant.A prospective cohort study was performed in a tertiary referral center between July and September 2020. A female talker recorded sentences in three conditions: no face covering, N95 mask, and N95 mask plus a face shield. Spectral differences were analyzed between speech produced in each condition. The speech recognition in each condition for twenty-three adult patients with at least 6 months of cochlear implant use was assessed.Spectral analysis demonstrated preferential attenuation of high-frequency speech information with the N95 mask plus face shield condition compared to the other conditions. Speech recognition did not differ significantly between the uncovered (median 90% [IQR 89%-94%]) and N95 mask conditions (91% [IQR 86%-94%]; P = .253); however, speech recognition was significantly worse in the N95 mask plus face shield condition (64% [IQR 48%-75%]) compared to the uncovered (P 

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Authors: Teresa G Vos, Margaret T Dillon, Emily Buss, Meredith A Rooth, Andrea L Bucker, Sarah Dillon, Adrienne Pearson, Kristen Quinones, Margaret E Richter, Noelle Roth, Allison Young, Matthew M Dedmon