These studies don’t identify the reasons why hearing loss may lead to more accidents or falls. In the case of hearing loss and falls, experts speculate that hearing impaired individuals may have reduced “environmental awareness” (what’s going on around them) or less “spatial awareness” (relationship to other people or objects around them). “Cognitive overload” may be another factor — the brain is devoting excessive mental resources to hearing, at the expense of maintaining balance.
"Gait and balance are things most people take for granted, but they are actually very cognitively demanding," explains Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D. Johns Hopkins lead researcher.
Can timely intervention and treatment help hearing impaired individuals avoid accidents and falls? Researchers are trying to answer this question, but the evidence definitely suggests as much.
“Increased awareness about hearing difficulty and its proper screening and management may assist in decreasing accidental injury,” conclude the authors of the CDC study. In addition, a study conducted at Washington University of St. Louis indicated that amplification helped test participants with maintaining balance.
For companies today, workplace injuries represent a significant financial burden, both in terms of lost productivity and increased costs for medical care and workers’ compensation. Hearing loss prevention certainly should be a top priority. But equally important is the availability of high-quality hearing health care, and a hearing benefit can help ensure that employees get the treatment they need.