Reversible conductive hearing impediments among patients with severe brain injury

Udi Cinamon, Dov Albukrek, David Dvir, Tal Marom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Rehabilitation of patients with severe traumatic brain injury may include auditory stimuli. Hampering the function of the external, middle ear or Eustachian tube generates a conductive auditory deficit up to 35 dB that may potentially hinder auditory rehabilitation. The objective was to evaluate the incidence of conductive hearing impediments among patients with severe brain injury. Methods: The cross-section study included adults with severe brain injury hospitalized in a rehabilitation center. The patients presented with a prolonged vegetative state, were dependent on mechanical ventilation and gastrostomy tube feeding. Assessment of external, middle ear and Eustachian tube included otoscopy, tympanometry, nasopharyngoscopy, gag reflex and soft palate evaluations. Results: Nineteen patients (38 ears) were evaluated: 14 males and 5 females, aged 18–93 years (average 59). All patients had a normal nasopharynx, lacked a gag reflex, palatal movements or supraglottic sensation. Eighteen ears (47%) had middle ear effusion, 26 (68%) ears had cerumen impaction, and 14 (37%) had both. Conclusions: Many patients with severe brain injury have reversible and treatable impairments that cause potential conductive hearing loss. Routine otoscopic examination and treatment if required, that is, removal of impacted cerumen or middle ear drainage, have rehabilitating and general health benefits.Implications for rehabilitation Auditory stimulation was suggested for rehabilitation in patients with severe traumatic brain injury. Many patients have cerumen and/or otitis media with effusion causing conductive hearing impairment as well as general health issues. Both aural impediments are diagnosed by routine otoscopy, are easily treated, and may affect rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3199-3202
Number of pages4
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number22
StatePublished - 22 Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain injury
  • cerumen
  • chronic
  • conductive
  • hearing loss
  • neurological
  • otitis media with effusion
  • rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation


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