FM Systems for Veterans with Normal Hearing
Saunders et al (2014) report that in the United States, 1.7 million people report traumatic brain injury (TBI) annually. Falls and motor vehicle accidents are the leading causes of TBI and 75 percent of TBI cases are classified as mild. However, between fiscal years 2009 and 2011, approximately 58,000 service members were diagnosed with TBI.
Saunders et al report outcomes for three blast-exposed veterans, fitted with FM systems. Of note, the three veterans presented with functional hearing problems, despite normal hearing sensitivity. The authors report multiple factors impact audiologic management decisions beyond hearing thresholds including speech in noise ability, demands on hearing, auditory lifestyle, and the presence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health factors.
The authors recommend a three-pronged approach to managing these patients including environmental modifications, direct training of auditory skills, and use of compensatory communication strategies. The test measures employed included Functional Hearing Questionnaire (FHQ), Speech Spatial and Qualities Questionnaire (SSQ), Listening in Spatialized Noise- Sentence Test (LISN-S), Hearing-In-Noise Test (HINT), and more.
Saunders et al report two of the three veterans had positive results with the FM system. They summarize that “It is likely not possible to predict who will be successful with an FM system because of all the factors (see above)…. Therefore, "a trial with an FM system is reasonable for those with hearing challenges following TBI to determine communication benefits that may ultimately significantly impact their lives.”
For More Information, Recommendations, and Resources
Saunders GH, Frederick MT, Chisolm TH, Silverman SP, Arnold M, Myers P. (2014) Use of a Frequency Modulated System for Veterans with Blast Exposure, Perceived Hearing Problems, and Normal Hearing Sensitivity. Seminars in Hearing 35(3):227-237.