Beyond physical injuries and mental stresses, many veterans return home with unexpected consequences. The most common service-related disability reported by veterans is hearing problems – specifically, tinnitus and hearing loss.
Gunfire, explosions and loud machinery can do lasting damage that reduce a person’s ability to hear over time. Blast exposure is linked to auditory processing disorder, a problem which disproportionately affects veterans.
These hazards are difficult to avoid to those who serve, and the effects they have on the workings of the inner ear often progress even after the exposure to harmful noise has stopped.
Retired Army Officer John Haecker experienced this personally in the Vietnam War era. He currently lives with high-frequency hearing loss.
“During my military experience, I had a lot of opportunities, unfortunately, to be around a lot of loud noise from vehicles, weapons fire, and other types of things that one normally sees in day-to-day military operations,” John said.
While some hearing loss can be reversed through surgery or medication, the usual course of treatment is hearing aids. However, most people who need the over-the-ear amplifiers choose not to use them, leaving them unable to hear well most of the time.
“I went through three different types of hearing aids,” John said. “Hearing aids are at best cumbersome. They’re basically just amplifying sound.”
John felt that in-ear devices did not work well at clarifying what other people were saying. They also changed the way people interacted with him in daily life.
“Hearing aids put an immediate bias on you as a person,” he said. “People presume that you’re older than you may be. They presume that you can’t hear so they start talking much louder than they normally would. It puts you into an entirely different light.”
Neosensory Clarify helped John hear clearly again.
Clarify is a discreet wristband that delivers vibrations through a series of motors that actually teach the brain to understand high-frequency phonemes that the ears no longer hear. It is the latest innovation from California company Neosensory, started by Stanford neuroscientist Dr. David Eagleman.
Certain phonemes, which are distinct parts of speech, can become muddled for those suffering from hearing loss. This often leads to specific sounds such as “d” and “s” being indistinguishable from each other.
Clarify helps the brain learn how to hear these sounds correctly, eventually becoming like eyeglasses for the wrist.
“When I first started wearing the band, I was very cognizant of the fact that the band was buzzing when I heard the d-word versus when I heard the s-sounds,” John said. “Now it’s going immediately and directly into my brain. I don’t have the perception of the buzz on the skin anymore, I only have the impression of the word in my brain. And I know exactly what the speaker has said.”
Hearing loss can often lead to a sense of isolation as sufferers are unable to communicate with loved ones and are unable to enjoy the conversations around them. It’s no surprise that those with hearing loss are more likely to have worsened anxiety and depression. The strain of trying to understand due to hearing loss has also been linked to a higher risk of dementia.
Linda Haecker, John’s wife, has seen improvement in her husband’s life since he discovered Clarify.
“This has led him to be able to be part of the conversation, no matter what was going on. And that’s what I really appreciate – because why should anybody have to miss out?” Linda said.
John wears his band in one-on-one settings as well as in crowded areas, and he has been amazed by the range of hearing he can now enjoy. He leaves his hearing aids at home 80% of the time.
“It’s like the difference between seeing in black and white and seeing in color,” John said.
Purchasing the Clarify band also gives users access to Duo, a program that helps provide lasting relief for tinnitus to 87% of users. Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is the number-one disability among veterans. The ringing is related to hearing loss caused by the occupational hazards that service members face.
Visit Neosensory.com to experience sound and rediscover peace.