Mechanisms of Acoustic Trauma

Mechanisms of Acoustic Trauma

Acoustic trauma sustained in a car accident can lead to severe hearing loss. While some forms of hearing loss are temporary, others can be permanent. Unfortunately, hearing loss can develop in many ways, including in an auto accident, and acoustic difficulties are more common than many people understand. According to the statistics that have been released by the National Institute on Deafness:

  • About three out of every one thousand kids who are born in the United States have a detectable level of hearing difficulties in one or both ears.
  • More than 37 million people in the United States have reported problems with their hearing.
  • The overall prevalence of hearing loss in the United States is at around 15 percent.
  • The vast majority of children who have hearing difficulties are born to parents who can hear, meaning that many forms of hearing loss are acquired after birth (such as in an accident).
  • Men are twice as likely as women to develop some form of hearing problem.
  • The most common age group in which hearing loss is a problem is in adults over the age of 60.

These numbers demonstrate that many hearing problems are acquired after birth. Furthermore, hearing difficulties affect everyone. Therefore, it is important to understand how the ears work and how trauma suffered in an accident can lead to hearing loss.

The Function of the Ears

The outer structure of the ears has been designed to catch sound waves and funnel them into the canal. As sound travels through the canal, the waves cause tiny hairs inside the ears to vibrate. In addition, the sound waves strike the eardrum (also called the tympanic membrane) causing it to vibrate. These vibrations are transmitted from the outer ear into the middle ear, where three bones convert the sound waves into nerve signals. These three bones are the:

  • Incus
  • Malleus
  • Stapes

These bones take the sound waves and turn them into fluid waves. Then, the vestibulocochlear nerve converts these fluid waves into electrical nerve signals. These signals are transmitted to the brain, which interprets them as sound.

How is Hearing Loss Suffered in an Auto Accident?

There are three major ways that someone could suffer hearing loss in a motor vehicle collision. These are:

Direct Blow to the Head: In some car accidents, individuals can experience a traumatic brain injury. A blow to the head can lead to damage to the ears directly. A perforated eardrum or a bone fracture inside of the ear can make it hard for the sound waves to be interpreted correctly. In other cases, neurological damage to the brain can also lead to hearing loss.

Penetrating Injury: Some injuries to the ear are due to penetrating wounds of the ear canal. This can lead to a direct perforation of the eardrum and could cause damage to the internal structures of the ear.

Airbag Deployment: When the airbag deploys, this could be accompanied by a loud explosion. This sound is often so loud that it leads to damage to the interior ear. While some forms of hearing loss from airbag deployment could be temporary, other forms could be permanent.

If someone has noticed hearing problems after an auto accident, it is important to seek medical care as quickly as possible.

Treatment Options for Acoustic Trauma

In some cases, the hearing issues can be reversed. Some examples include:

  • Repairing bone fractures that might have occurred in the inner ear
  • Fixing perforations in the eardrum
  • Consulting with audiology and ENT specialists to discuss alternative treatment options
  • Considering the possibility of cochlear implants or hearing aids

In addition, some forms of hearing loss could simply require time to heal. Unfortunately, other cases of hearing loss could end up being permanent. This can create a stressful situation for families. Individuals may need to learn how to read lips or use sign language.

Watch YouTube Video: Acoustic Trauma. This short animated video demonstrates how acoustic trauma can affect your brain and health.

Contacting a Personal Injury Law Firm

Following a severe accident, it is vital for family members to seek appropriate medical attention. If an individual is diagnosed with hearing difficulties, it is important to meet with a personal injury attorney in Sacramento. Hearing problems can make it hard to return to work or school. These problems can have adverse effects on the quality of life of not only the individual but also his or her family and friends. Some of the resources that an injury lawyer can provide include:

  • Negotiating with financial entities to make sure that bills are paid on time.
  • Serving as an objective presence who can review options with families, helping them make appropriate decisions for their recovery and healing process.
  • Assisting families in pursuing damages related to the accident and its injuries.
  • Shifting a case to trial when required.

Most importantly, you need to remember to ask for help. You don’t need to face such a tough situation alone. Do not hesitate to contact a Sacramento personal injury lawyer. You and your family could be deserving of a financial reward.

Sacramento Personal Injury Attorney

I’m Ed Smith, a Personal Injury Attorney in Sacramento. Problems involving the ears are frequently overlooked; however, they can lead to significant complications that could last a lifetime. If you or a loved one has struggled with hearing issues in the aftermath of a major accident, call me at your earliest convenience at (800) 404-5400 or (916) 921-6400 for free, friendly legal advice.

I am honored to be an attorney in the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and of the  Top One Percent, a National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

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