Research & Scholarly Achievement
at Gallaudet University
The Effect of Hearing Protection on Postural Stability
The ability to balance one's body in space is known to depend on integration of information from three systems: visual, somatosensory, and vestibular. In addition to these three systems, there is research to support the use of auditory information to reduce postural sway and therefore assist in balance. At times, auditory information cannot be made available to listeners because the level of background noise is high enough to cause damage to the system. In these cases, hearing protective devices (HPDs) such as earplugs or earmuffs are required. When double hearing protection (both earplugs and earmuffs) are needed individuals may find the experience particularly disorienting. The purpose of our research is to explore the effect of double hearing protection on postural stability, measured by recording postural sway. By recording postural sway in the presence of noise with and without HPDs, we hope to determine the significance of auditory cues on balance.