Introduction: The main idea underlying this paper is that impairments such as deafness are particularly relevant to the extent that they lead to deprivation of capability. Likewise, the impact of healthcare services such as cochlear implants and subsequent rehabilitation can best be inferred from the extent that they protect or restore capability of those affected.
Methods: To explore children’s post-implant capabilities, we tested two newly developed digital, adaptive child self-report and parent-report questionnaires in 19 deaf children (aged 8–12 years) and their parents during rehabilitation, as well as in 23 age peers with normal hearing.
Results: Despite the impressive speech-language results that were recorded with cochlear implants, the post-implant capabilities of the deaf children we evaluated differed from those of their hearing peers, with the cochlear implant group appearing particularly disadvantaged in areas such as accessing information, communication, social participation, and participation in school.
Conclusion: Deaf children with cochlear implants who are performing well on linguistic and auditory tests can still experience serious limitations in desired functioning. Our findings suggest that a capability approach may reveal aspects of what is being achieved through rehabilitation that might otherwise remain unnoticed, and that could help to further improve the well-being of our patients.