Purpose: Background sounds provided by a wearable sound playback device were mixed with the acoustical input picked up by a cochlear implant (CI) speech processor in an attempt to suppress tinnitus.
Method: First, patients were allowed to listen to several sounds and select up to four sounds that they thought might be effective. These stimuli were programmed to loop continuously in the wearable playback device. Second, subjects were instructed to use one background sound each day on the wearable device, and sequenced the selected background sounds during a 28 day trial. Patients were instructed to go to a website at the end of each day and rate the loudness and annoyance of the tinnitus, and the acceptability of the background sound. Patients completed the Tinnitus Primary Function Questionnaire at the beginning of the trial.
Results: Results indicated that background sounds were very effective at suppressing tinnitus. There was considerable variability in sounds preferred by the subjects.
Conclusions: The study shows that a background sound mixed with the microphone input can be effective for suppressing tinnitus during daily use of the sound processor in selected CI users.