Volume 44 Number 7 2007
Pages 921 — 928

Abstract - Auditory dysfunction in traumatic brain injury

Henry L. Lew, MD, PhD;1-2* James F. Jerger, PhD;3 Sylvia B. Guillory, BS;1 James A. Henry, PhD4-5

1Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Service, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, CA; 2Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA; 3School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, The University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, TX; 4VA Rehabilitation Research and Development, National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research, VA Medical Center, Portland, OR; 5Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR

Abstract — Effective communication is essential for successful rehabilitation, especially in patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI). The authors examined the prevalence and characteristics of auditory dysfunction in patients with TBI who were admitted to a Department of Veterans Affairs TBI inpatient unit before and after the onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). In order to delineate the characteristics of the auditory manifestations of patients who had sustained blast-related (BR) TBI, we reviewed the medical records of 252 patients with TBI and categorized them according to admission date, either before (Group I, n = 102) or after (Group II, n = 150) the onset of OIF. We subdivided Group II into non-blast-related (NBR) and BR TBI; no subjects in Group I had BR TBI. We found that admissions for TBI have increased 47% since the onset of OIF. In Group I, 28% of patients with TBI complained of hearing loss and 11% reported tinnitus. In Group II-NBR (n = 108), 44% complained of hearing loss and 18% reported tinnitus. In Group II-BR (n = 42), 62% complained of hearing loss and 38% reported tinnitus. Sensorineural loss was the most prevalent type of hearing loss in Group II-BR patients. In light of the high prevalence of hearing loss and tinnitus in this growing population of returning soldiers, we need to develop and implement strategies for diagnosis and management of these conditions.

Key words: auditory dysfunction, blast-related injury, hearing loss, non-blast-related injury, OIF, rehabilitation, sensorineural hearing loss, TBI, tinnitus, traumatic brain injury.

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