Concussions and Their Effect on Your Brain and Your Hearing

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August 20, 2019

Concussions and hearing health

The long-term effects of sports-related blows to the head fill the headlines often due to numerous professional football players receiving concussions during games. According to a statement from the CDC, over 1 million cases of traumatic brain injury (TBI) occur each year, leading to hospitalizations. TBI is most common in males between the ages of 15 to 35 years of age. Risk-taking behavior and contact sports are the leading causes.

What Is A Concussion?

A concussion is a mild TBI. The damage is the result of being hit on the head with force or a violent shaking of the head. It can even be the result of a sound blast in which the noise is loud enough to cause brain damage. The primary injury is bruising of the brain, which can also lead to bleeding. The most frequent causes of head trauma are motor vehicle crashes, explosions, or sport-related injuries. A brain injury can cause life-changing symptoms, including the loss of hearing.

The concussion can cause ear damage or changes to the auditory pathway leading up to the brain. Several changes can then occur to the ear, including reversible or irreversible hearing damage. The eardrum can rupture, the small bones of the middle ear can become dislocated, and the membranes of the inner ear can receive damage. The concussion can affect hearing in the following ways:

  • Difficulty processing auditory information
  • Trouble locating where sounds are coming from
  • Vertigo
  • Tinnitus
  • Hyperacusis

Concerns are growing that one or more blows to the head can cause permanent brain damage even if the symptoms look to have subsided. Although a diagnosis of a concussion relies on the evaluation of several organs, patients are usually deemed to be okay once the symptoms have subsided. It becomes difficult to tell whether or not a patient is genuinely fully recovered or not.

The FFR

The frequency-following response (FFR) is an innovative, objective tactic to identify concussions. The FFR is a measurement of sound-evoked synchronous neural activity and a delicate assessment of brain health. The exceptional benefit of the FFR is that it needs no behavioral answer from patients; patients cannot will their brains to answer in a particular way. Therefore, it can circumvent many of the challenges that current approaches to diagnosing concussions face. So, does brain damage result from repeated hits to the head? The answer may be in a longitudinal study that tracks athletes through many seasons. Hopefully, this can playing sports safer by taking an objective look at the brain health of athletes.

Treatment

So, what can you do for the loss of hearing as the result of a concussion? Remember that treatment for a TBI takes time and attention from many skilled professionals. The treatment of a concussion will require the services of a hearing healthcare professional. Here are a few tips that may help:

  • Reduce background noises and eliminate distractions.
  • Face people when you speak to them so you can use auditory and visual cues for communication.
  • Speak to a hearing healthcare professional regarding possible assistive listening devices.

Contact our office today to learn more.

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