Co-morbidities of hearing loss and occupational therapy in preschool children

Varsha Sewpersad


Introduction:    Many children with hearing impairment present with one or more health-related conditions defined as a co-morbidity in addition to hearing loss. Families and professionals are then faced with various challenges that often complicate the assessment, management and educational placement of these children. Appropriate holistic intervention is essential for the development and quality of life of the child. This study describes the co-morbidities within the field of occupational therapy, speech therapy and physiotherapy that pre-school children with hearing loss present with at the Centre for Language and Hearing Impaired Children (CLAHIC) and its implications for management.

Method: A descriptive, retrospective research design was employed.  Using a non-probability, purposive sampling strategy the records of 62 children diagnosed with a hearing loss that attended the CLAHIC from 1999 to 2010, were reviewed.

Results: The prevalent co-morbidities identified in this study were found mostly within the field of Occupational Therapy and included fine and gross motor delay, visual motor integration disorders and bilateral integration disorders. Further findings indicated that co-morbidities of hearing loss are independent of the degree of the hearing loss.

Conclusion: The findings suggest that pre-school children with hearing loss, irrespective of the etiology and degree of hearing loss, should be screened for prevalent co-morbidities, such as fine and gross motor difficulties.

Keywords: Co-morbidities; hearing loss; interdisciplinary team; occupational therapy.

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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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