Sound therapy for cochlear implant users with tinnitus

Jan A. A. van Heteren*, Remo A. G. J. Arts, Matthijs J. P. Killian, Kelly K. S. Assouly, Cynthia van de Wauw, Robert J. Stokroos, Adriana L. Smit, Erwin L. J. George

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: Despite the positive effect of a cochlear implant (CI) on tinnitus in many patients, tinnitus remains a problem for a significant proportion of CI users. We investigated the acceptability and effect of sound therapy (a combination of natural background sounds and one concise tinnitus counselling session) on tinnitus and speech perception in CI users who still experienced tinnitus during CI use.
Design and study sample: Thirty-two CI users (32–78 years) participated in phase 1: a test at the clinic to evaluate six background sounds provided by the sound processor. Eighteen out of the 32 CI users participated in phase 2: an optional take-home evaluation of 2 weeks without sound therapy, followed by 5 weeks with sound therapy, ending with an evaluation visit.
Results: Thirty subjects (93.8%) found at least one background sound acceptable. In phase 2, a small improvement with sound therapy was found for tinnitus loudness, annoyance, and intrusiveness. 50% of the subjects subjectively reported benefit of sound therapy. Especially the sense of control on their tinnitus was highly appreciated. No detrimental effect on speech perception was observed.
Conclusion: The background sounds were acceptable and provided tinnitus relief in some CI users with tinnitus during CI use.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-384
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Audiology
Issue number5
Early online date16 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2021


  • Background sounds
  • cochlear implant
  • speech perception
  • tinnitus

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