Military-Specific Hearing Test Could Better Determine Combat Readiness


The ASHA Leader, June 2015, Vol. 20, 14. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB1.20062015.14

For soldiers on the battlefield, the words “Medic!” and “Hold fire!” and references to location are among their top hearing priorities, according to new research in Noise and Health.

The study, led by Hannah Semeraro of the United Kingdom’s University of Southampton, is a step in the creation of a new type of hearing test that gauges a soldier’s ability to perform effectively in combat situations. The researchers asked 79 British military personnel to rank 17 sounds and commands (identified in a previous study) based on importance, regularity and the number of soldiers who hear them.

More than 4,000 British troops had hearing loss as of November 2013, according to the Ministry of Defence. In the United States, hearing health is also a large military issue, with the Department of Veterans Affairs citing hearing loss and tinnitus as two of the most common injuries among troops.

The study’s results identify nine mission-critical auditory tasks, including accurately hearing commands in a casualty situation, grid references, directions, fire-control orders, and “stop” commands and briefings; locating firing points; and identifying the type of weapon being fired.

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