Respiratory Changes during Reading in Mandarin-Speaking Adolescents with Prelingual Hearing Impairment
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Objective: Most people with severe to profound hearing impairment (SHI) exhibit speech breathing changes, but little is known about the breath group (BG) structure for this population. The purposes of this study were to investigate, compared to speakers with normal hearing, if Mandarin-speaking adolescents with prelingual SHI take inspirations more often at syntactically inappropriate positions and exhibit a difference in the temporal BG characteristics. Patients and Methods: Forty participants, 20 speakers with prelingual SHI and 20 normal-hearing controls matched for age, sex and education level were recruited. While wearing a circumferentially vented mask connected to a pneumotachograph, the subjects read three passages. The airflow signal was used to locate inspiratory loci in the speech samples. Temporal parameters of BG structure were derived from the acoustic signal. Results: The SHI group, compared to the control group, had significantly (1) more inspiratory loci at inappropriate and minor syntactic boundaries; (2) fewer syllables per BG, slower speaking rate, longer inter-BG pauses, and longer noninspiratory pauses, but comparable inspiratory duration, expiration duration, and BG duration. Conclusion: The slower speaking rate within BGs and longer inter-BG pauses mainly account for the respiratory changes in Mandarin-speaking adolescents with prelingual SHI.