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How Traumatic Brain Injury Affects Hearing

Hearing problems are quite common after a traumatic brain injury (TBI)  because the inner ear is directly connected to the central nervous system.  Ringing in the ear (tinnitus) and hearing loss are two of the most widely  reported side effects of a traumatic brain injury. Some other hearing problems  that may occur following a brain injury include hyperacusis (normal situations  seem very loud); difficulty filtering one set of sounds from background noise;  and auditory agnosia (also called pure word deafness). Auditory agnosia is a  condition in which the person is unable to recognize the meanings of certain  sounds.

Following a TBI, hearing problems can occur for a number of reasons, both  mechanical and neurological, particularly when the inner ear and/or temporal  lobes have been damaged. External bleeding in the ear canal, middle ear damage,  cochlear injury and/or temporal lobe lesions can all cause auditory  dysfunction.

Children who suffer TBI typically face additional problems in the areas of  communication, acquiring new information, spatial orientation, task completion,  impulse control, and social conversation.

The inner ear is made up of a series of delicate membranes, which can easily  rupture during a head trauma. The cochlea, which is the important spiral-shaped  bone in the ear, can be damaged by a strong blow to the head causing hearing  damage. Other types of membrane damage may cause hearing loss as well as  dizziness (vertigo) and nausea. Sometimes, surgery can correct damage to the  inner ear.

Because hearing loss limits or takes away one of the primary means we use to  communicate, hearing loss has the potential to complicate many of the other side  effects of brain damage, mainly cognitive and social problems. Many TBI victims  already suffer cognitive issues such as trouble finding words, and these  problems are only exacerbated if the patient cannot hear what is going on around  him.

Fortunately, for some TBI victims, hearing problems disappear a few weeks  after the accident that led to the patient’s brain damage, but other hearing  problems will last indefinitely. Since many hearing problems cannot even be  detected by the patient himself after the TBI, it is recommended that anyone  suffering a traumatic brain injury be evaluated by an audiologist, even if  nothing appears to be wrong with the victim’s hearing.

If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury in Houston or anywhere  in Texas, please contact the experienced Brain Injury Attorneys at Kennedy Hodges  L.L.P.

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