Did you know that an estimated 1.6-3.8 million sports and recreation-related concussions happen every year in the United States? In fact, brain injuries cause more deaths than any other sports injury, and an athlete who sustains a concussion is 4-6 times more likely to sustain a second concussion.
According to the CDC, “a concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.” It is characterized by symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, loss of consciousness, fatigue, vomiting and confusion. Essentially, it is a serious injury that many now believe can have long-lasting effects. Those effects may also include a negative impact on our hearing.
The concussion and hearing health connection
It’s nothing new that a traumatic brain injury (concussions are a mild form of these head traumas) can affect hearing. These effects may be temporary or permanent and range from ruptured eardrums to damaged bones of the middle ear to damage and disruption of the auditory pathways of the brain resulting in:
Damage to the hearing brain may also now be the key to identifying and tracking recovery and long-term damage after a concussion thanks to a new approach called the frequency-following response (FFR).
Frequency-following response and concussions
Concussions are inarguably frequent and seem to be more common than ever these days, and yet, so much is still unknown about them. Experts have now taken a significant step forward when it comes to accurately diagnosing a concussion and uncovering damage. That’s where the newest approach of frequency-following response (FFR) could play an important role.
In a recent article in The Hearing Journal, this new approach and how it’s being used were discussed confirming just how important a tool it may be when it comes to concussions.
The FFR is “a measure of sound-evoked synchronous neural activity and a sensitive test of brain health.” What makes it especially useful is that it is completely objective, identifying how the brain responds not how the patient responds.
In testing of this technique, the team studying it found that:
While more study is needed, these findings suggest that not only is the FFR an effective measure of a concussion’s effect on the brain and hearing, but also that even a single concussion could have long-lasting effects on the brain and hearing health.