WASHINGTON, DC — The US Department of Defense reports that half of all troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq suffer from some degree of permanent hearing loss. A National Public Radio (NPR) broadcast on June 3 featured the development and deployment of a smart hearing protection system, called Tactical Communication and Protective System (or TCAPS). Currently, 20,000 TCAPS are being used by the U.S. military.
The NPR report featured audiologist, Lt. Col. Kristen Casto who discussed the need for soldiers to maintain auditory awareness of their surroundings, while at the same time receiving hearing protection from loud blasts.
Chief Scientist at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Doug Brungart, was also featured in the report. Dr. Brungart discussed how the smart earplug works as a type of automatic volume control that attenuates loud blasts that often cause permanent hearing loss.
The entire 3-minute NPR broadcast can be heard here.
A video about the TCAPS system produced by the US Army is shown below:
Hearing loss and tinnitus are among the most common service-connected disabilities for US military veterans. Tinnitus is currently the number one service connected disability among veterans, with claims costing an estimated $2.4 billion annually.
*title image Fort Drum Online