New Research Determines That the Brain May Not Be Able To Make Sense Of Sounds After A Concussion

November 16, 2021, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

Man in Blue Shirt Holding Black and Silver Microphone

Concussion is a leading cause of hospitalization in Canada and can result from car accidents, slip and falls, sporting accidents or workplace falls. Thousands of Ontarians are diagnosed with a concussion every year and the symptoms of concussion can vary and can linger for months or even years for some people.


Common symptoms of concussions include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Double vision/disturbed vision


What researchers have recently discovered though is that concussions can impact the brain’s ability to sift through sound and make sense of it. Sound processing is one of the hardest jobs for the brain and the research by Nina Kraus in the neurology department of Northwestern University has found that 15% - 20% of individuals with concussions have persistent sound processing difficulties. Kraus suggests that this means hundreds of thousands of Americans with concussions are impacted.


Dr. Kraus says that sounds are detected by nerve cells in the inner ear that are then converted into electrical signals to the brain. The brain then processes the signals into the auditory signal. Sifting out background noise, hearing what it ‘important’ is incredibly complex. The brain tracks location, source, volume, pitch and timing of sounds to make sense of them.


Dr. Kraus experimented with university-age athlete students who generally have normal hearing. Post-concussion she found they often fail the ‘speech in noise test’. This is a test in which the athletes listen to a sentence that is embedded in other noise. If you have normal brain function understanding the sentence is easy even with a lot of background noise. 


For many athletes post-concussion, they were unable to understand and fail the test. Concussions can also leave an individual hypersensitive to sound. Both she and the American military are studying the links between head injury and sound processing. The military found that post the Iraq and Afghanistan wars the VA in America began noting that large numbers of relatively young soldiers and veterans were presenting with hearing problems. However, when their hearing was tested they returned normal results.

What they finally determined was that their hearing was fine, but their brains were unable to process the sounds. Soldiers are often exposed to ‘blast waves’ - repeated concussive forces from explosions in the battlefield and sustain concussions without any ‘visible’ symptoms. Many veterans continue to have auditory processing impairments more than a decade after exposure to a bomb blast.


You can read more about Dr. Kraus’ research here and the VA research here


If you have sustained a concussion and are suffering the lingering symptoms please contact one of our highly experienced personal injury lawyers today for your free initial consultation.


Posted under Accident Benefit News, Automobile Accident Benefits, Brain Injury, Car Accidents, Concussion Syndrome, Pedestrian Accidents, Personal Injury, concussion, traumatic brain injury

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Deutschmann Law serves South-Western Ontario with offices in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Woodstock, Brantford, Stratford and Ayr. The law practice of Robert Deutschmann focuses almost exclusively in personal injury and disability insurance matters. For more information, please visit or call us toll-free at 1-866-414-4878.

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