We often consider a variety of risk factors for determining whether a particular person in Escondido is more likely to suffer a personal injury in an accident than another person. For example, we might think about whether a person’s job involves dangerous activities, such as working with heavy machinery or working on scaffolding. Or, we might consider whether a person has to drive on the highway in order to commute to work. Differently, we might consider a person’s age and sex in helping to think through whether that person is at risk of a particularly severe injury in a slip and fall accident, for instance, or in a drowning incident.
What about a person’s ability to hear? According to a recent article in Reuters Health, hearing loss has been linked to a higher risk of unintentional injury. As the article explains, “people who have a lot of trouble hearing may be almost twice as likely to experience an accidental injury as individuals with excellent or good hearing.” This information comes out of a recent study that assessed injury risk for a wide variety of adults between the years 2007-2015.
Hearing Loss Increases a Person’s Risk of Suffering an Injury
The study was conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In order to determine just how much hearing affects a person’s likelihood of getting hurt in an accident, the researchers asked participants in the study to rate their own hearing ability (or hearing loss), and then to indicate whether they had sustained a personal injury as a result of an accident within the last three months.
According to Dr. Neil Bhattacharyya, who was the senior author of the study, “hearing is a special sense and as such one of its primary sensory functions is as a warning system for the body.” Unsurprisingly, then, people who self-reported having difficulty hearing were more likely to suffer an unintentional injury. How bad does hearing loss have to be before it increases a person’s risk of being involved in an accident? In short, the degree of hearing loss tends to correspond with the degree of risk.
For example, individuals who said they had “a little trouble hearing” were about 60% more likely to get hurt in an accident. For those who self-reported “moderate difficult hearing,” they were about 70% more likely than someone with excellent hearing to be injured in an accident. For those who indicated “a lot of trouble hearing,” the risk rose by about 90%.
Reasons for the Link Between Hearing Loss and Unintentional Injury Rates
Why does hearing loss correspond to a higher risk of involvement in an accident? As Dr. Bhattacharyya explained, the findings of the study make logical sense: “When people have hearing loss, they may be less likely to hear warning signs of, for example, a bicycle or motorcycle coming towards them.” He clarified, those individuals with hearing loss “may be less likely to hear a car horn or someone yelling at them to ‘duck’ if a baseball is headed in their direction.”
Just because a person has hearing loss does not mean that another party’s negligence is excusable. While excellent hearing may allow a person to avoid an injury caused by a negligent party, that negligent party can be held responsible regardless of the victim’s ability to hear warnings signs of impending danger.
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(image courtesy of Matthieu A.)