Avoiding the Inevitable: Overcoming Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in University Athletic Bands
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Any permanent, sensory hearing loss affects an individual’s vocational, social, and home life as it disrupts the ability to communicate with others. A permanent hearing loss in a musician breaks ties with other human beings as well as with a career that he or she has spent years learning. Yet this disability is unnecessary. Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is the most preventable type of hearing loss but the prevention must start at the beginning of one’s musical career. The purpose of this study is to investigate the attitudes collegiate musicians have towards using high-fidelity hearing protection. The participants were members of Texas State’s athletic bands. The musicians engaged in an educational intervention that incorporated dosimeter sound level percentages, distortion product otoacoustic emissions testing, and a video from Etymotic’s Adopt-A- Band hearing conservation program. Each musician was issued high-fidelity hearing protection and educated on its proper use. Pre-study and post-study surveys were conducted to determine how attitudes and behaviors toward the prevention of NIHL changed over time. Findings showed all band members felt that optimum sound quality was worth the increased risk of hearing loss. However, all subjects reported they would continue wearing the earplugs after learning of its importance.