Military-Specific Hearing Test Could Better Determine Combat Readiness 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 ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   June 01, 2015
Military-Specific Hearing Test Could Better Determine Combat Readiness
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Hearing Disorders / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   June 01, 2015
Military-Specific Hearing Test Could Better Determine Combat Readiness
The ASHA Leader, June 2015, Vol. 20, 14. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB1.20062015.14
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.

“By establishing what soldiers need to be able to hear and react to ... we can create an auditory fitness-for-duty test that is related to the scenarios that the soldiers actually experience.”

Once developed, the new types of tests could replace the British military’s current pure-tone audiometry assessment, which measures a person’s ability to hear different frequencies in a quiet environment. The U.S. military uses the same type of test.
“The problem with the pure-tone audiometry test is that it doesn’t relate to the circumstances that soldiers encounter in the line of duty,” Semeraro says. “By establishing what soldiers need to be able to hear and react to, and weighting these auditory tasks to reflect operational priorities, we can create an auditory fitness-for-duty test that is related to the scenarios that the soldiers actually experience.”
Semeraro and her team plan to continue developing and validating the new tests.
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June 2015
Volume 20, Issue 6