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J Rehabil Res Dev. 2007;44(7):921-8.

Auditory dysfunction in traumatic brain injury.

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Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Service, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA.


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.

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