Evaluation of Advanced Hearing Protection Systems
Tinnitus and noise-induced hearing loss are the two most frequent permanent injuries in the deployed military population. In most cases, the hearing protection devices that are currently available can provide more than enough attenuation to prevent hearing loss when they are consistently and properly worn. Thus it is likely that many military hearing injuries occur during time periods when hearing protection devices are not being worn properly, either because these devices tend to impair the situational awareness of the user or because they are uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. To address this problem, we are working to assess the impact that current hearing protection devices have on occlusion, communication efficiency, and situational awareness, and to develop improved hearing protection devices that are capable of providing substantial protection while remaining effectively “transparent” to the listener.