Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate auditory performance of military instructors as part of a training course involving noise and blast exposure. Boothless audiometry was used to estimate the test-retest reliability of the auditory measures under realistic field conditions and to determine risk of acute auditory injury during standard training practices. Design and study sample: Thirteen U.S. Marine instructors participated in study activities. An audiologic testing suite embedded in a noise-attenuating headset was used to test various tone detection tasks on subjects after exposure. Acoustic exposures were captured with sound level meters. Results: Boothless audiometry provide highly repeatable results for various tests of auditory performance in the field environment. In this test population, changes in auditory performance pre- and post-noise exposure were minimal for most measures. The notable exception was binaural (NoSπ) tone detection, which showed significant degradations both as a function of pre- and post-noise exposure on the same day and as a result of cumulative noise exposure over the period of the study. Conclusions: Study outcomes are consistent with prior laboratory and epidemiological work and suggest a link between the binaural processes required for NoSπ detection and the hearing-related issues reported by blast-exposed service members.
- Boothless audiometry
- hearing conservation/hearing loss prevention
- masking level difference