Hearing Loss And The Everyday AthleteOct 11, 2013
While hearing loss is a part of life for many Americans, it doesn't have to mean stopping all the things you love doing, including being active. Many professional athletes have competed on the world stage with hearing loss, and many more recreational athletes with hearing loss continue to enjoy the activities they love every day. Read on to find out what you need to know about playing sports with hearing loss…
1995 was a turning point in the public conversation about hearing loss in the United States. That was when Heather Whitestone became the first deaf Miss America, after performing a classical ballet dance during the talent portion of competition. Though she couldn’t hear the music, Ms. Whitestone counted the beats in her head, and timed her dance moves to changes in pitch.
Elite Athletes With Hearing Loss
Ms. Whitestone wasn’t the first deaf athlete, but with her platform, she was able to bring the conversation about hearing impairment in athletes, dancers and the like into the open. Other deaf athletes include American diver Chris Colwill and basketball player Tamika Catchings, who competed for the American women’s basketball team at the Beijing Olympics.
Everyday Athletes Can Still Compete
You don’t have to be an Olympic caliber athlete to enjoy sports with hearing loss. Whether you’re a casual golfer or a serious squash player, you can still enjoy your favorite activities with only some small adjustments. Here are some things to do to make it easier for you.
- Talk to your audiologist about your activities. The type of hearing aid you need will depend on your physical activity as well as your hearing loss. For example, inside the ear canal (ITE) devices are better when you are out in the elements because they’re protected from wind and rain.
- Make sure you have protective gear for your hearing aid, because the devices are often damaged from too much moisture, or when they accidentally fall out. Water resistant hearing aids are available for swimmers or for people concerned about too much sweating. Hearing aid dryers or dehumidifiers are small and inexpensive and can dry the excess moisture in your hearing aids while you sleep, and things like sweatbands can help keep perspiration out of your hearing aids in the first place.
- Keep your teammates and coaches informed of your hearing loss. Some people choose not to wear hearing aids while playing, and if your teammates know, they can alert you to whistles and warnings during the game.
Hearing loss is nobody’s first choice, but it can be dealt with simply and easily when you have the right hearing aids. Don’t let a little hearing loss take you out of the game of life!
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