Concussions can cause many different kinds of debilitating symptoms. These symptoms can include headaches, nausea, confusion, and dizziness. Researchers have found that a blow to the head can make it difficult for the brain to process or understand human speech in a noisy room.
Processing sound is complex
According to a Northwestern University neurobiologist, about 15% to 20% of concussions cause ongoing difficulties in processing sound.
“Making sense of sound is one of the hardest jobs that we ask our brains to do,” says professor Nina Kraus. “So you can imagine that a concussion, getting hit in the head, really does disrupt sound processing.”
Among other things, the brain processes electrical signals sent by the ears, but an injury bottlenecks this information in disrupted brain circuits. This can cause an inability to understand the tone, volume, cadence, the difference in what each ear hears (to track the source of the sound), and other details. It does not reduce the ability to hear, and it can also leave the injured party overly sensitive to sounds.
While Dr. Kraus’ research was conducted on college athletes, it has wide-ranging implications, including the ability to track long-term damage to veterans, first responders, and those involved in motor vehicle crashes. Dr. Kraus notes that head injuries affect thousands of people each year in the United States.
Victims of brain injuries may not even realize that their hearing problems were caused by head trauma. Often these symptoms will subside after a few weeks. However, if they do not subside, significant medical treatment may be needed. For these types of injuries, Dr. Kraus is experimenting with a type of treatment called rhythm therapy, which involves music and movement.
If you or a loved one has been injured with a concussion due to someone else’s negligence, an attorney experienced in traumatic brain injury litigation may be able to help.