Research on hearing loss was conducted recently at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, with over 2,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities, who had come from 107 nations to take part in these winter games. During the Special Olympics World Winter Games, these athletes underwent a thorough health screening program, including an in depth hearing screening. The results revealed that 18.4 percent of all athletes tested were affected by hearing loss.
Almost a quarter of the participating athletes at the Special Olympics are affected by hearing loss. Many of them do not wear a hearing instrument, because they cannot afford one and they do not have access to the necessary medical and audiological care in their home countries.
- 1183 athletes aged between 8 and 64 years underwent a hearing screening.
- 218 athletes were diagnosed with hearing loss, which equates to 18.4 percent of the Special Olympics athletes.
- The Hear the World Foundation supplies hearing instruments to 55 athletes from 35 countries and is organizing follow-up care in their respective home countries. 3 Korean athletes with hearing loss were fitted on site at the Healthy Hearing venue, while vouchers for hearing aid fittings, batteries and follow-up care were given out for the remaining athletes.
Hearing loss can affect people in their sporting activities. A story in Golf Digest magazine by Peter Morrice entitled “The Search for Feel,” drew a direct link between one’s hearing capabilities and one’s performance on the course. According to Morrice’s tests, normal hearing is necessary to find what golfers call a “feel” for the shot. The article is constructed around several experiments and stories of professional and blind golfers who place hearing as the number one sensory impression affecting their swing. “’When it comes to drivers, sound dominates what the player calls feel,” says Matt Erickson, manager of product analysis for Callaway.” The article went on to quote Arnold Palmer: “’without my [hearing] aids…I lose all feel for what I want to do.”
And some athletes forge a career with some level of hearing loss. Ever since school, American Footballer Reed Doughty sat in the front of the class and tried to pay close attention. Former Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Gregg Williams noticed his pupil paid too much attention when he spoke in meetings during Doughty’s rookie season. Williams saw Doughty trying to read his lips and asked him to take a hearing test. Doughty has battled his hearing deficiency since childhood, but it hasn’t stopped him from becoming a starting NFL safety.
“I have hearing loss – I am not deaf,” Doughty said. “I play on defense, so I don’t have to go off the snap count. You have to communicate with other guys, but there are so many other ways with body language, with hand signals and just knowing what you’re going to do before the play instead of just reacting all the time.
“I’ve done it for so long – and guys know they have to signal because I’m not going to hear them. In general, it can be really hard to talk to other guys on the field anyway.”
Anybody who might be concerned about their hearing, can avail of a free hearing test at any Hidden Hearing branch nationwide. You can book a hearing test free of charge at any of Hidden Hearing’s 60 clinics nationwide. Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit www.hiddenhearing.ie.