DAYTON, Ohio — Between the roar of the engines and the sound of aircraft launching off the upper deck, life is loud aboard the USS Ronald Reagan. More than 2,100 miles away from its station in Yokosuka, Japan, Dr. Karen Mumy researches ways to prevent that volume from damaging sailors' hearing.
Inside the Environmental Health Effects Laboratory, the United States Navy’s largest basic lab, Mumy and her colleagues recreate the ambient sounds of the Reagan and study the ways they can affect sailors’ health.
“Our studies are meant to dig a little bit deeper into how the different types of noise and duration of noise exposure can contribute to hearing-related injury,” she said.
It’s necessary research: Statistics collected by the Department of Veterans Affairs indicate nearly one million United States veterans receive disability compensation related to hearing loss, and 1.3 million receive compensation for tinnitus.
Other veterans, especially those exposed to repeated high-volume blasts, may hear clearly but exhibit signs of auditory processing disorder, which interferes with their ability to understand speech.
Mumy and her colleagues hope to develop new tools to preserve servicemembers’ hearing and mental health so they re-enter civilian life without long-term problems.