Portland, Ore. Recently the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) dedicated a new building to house the National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research (NCRAR). The facility consolidates the activities of this VA Center of Excellence located on the Portland, Ore., VA Medical Center campus.
Devoted to improving rehabilitation to optimize hearing health care for veterans, and by extension the nation, NCRAR is currently conducting numerous research projects, and has become established as an education source for veterans and hearing healthcare professionals alike. The Center also is involved in developing several technology-based audiology devices.
With hearing loss the single most common disability in the veteran population, and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) the third, consolidation of the Centers unique activities comes at a good time to meet the needs of the growing number of Iraq war veterans. Specifically, 25 percent of Army and Marine Corps servicemen and nearly 35 percent of National Guardsmen return from Iraq with some form of hearing loss.
Center Director Stephen A. Fausti, Ph.D. said, We often hear about the dangers of loud music to hearing, but far worse is the risk of hearing damage from the noise of firearms and other loud explosions experienced without the appropriate hearing protection.
A new 4096-cubic-foot anechoic chamber is a highlight of the National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research's new facility located in Portland Oregon. The chamber will be used for hearing aid research, sound localization studies, acoustic transducer studies, and other sound field research. An anechoic environment simulates a free-field sound environment. In it, the sound level drops 6dB for every doubling of distance from a point source.
The facility streamlines the Centers work and houses nine sound booths and associated control rooms; a specialized anechoic chamber; office and research space for investigators, audiologists, engineers, and other staff; and patient education space. In addition, a well-equipped engineering laboratory located in the Center supports the design and development of specialized equipment for auditory research and clinical applications.
Previously the Centers assets were housed in buildings and rooms spread across the Portland VA Medical Centers campus, including at its Vancouver location. The new 20,000 square foot research center was formerly used as an employee parking garage.
More than 800,000 veterans receive disability compensation for service-connected hearing disability (e.g., defective hearing, tinnitus, hearing loss or impairment). Another 1.5 million, who do not qualify for service-connected compensation, are eligible for treatment through the VA healthcare system.
More information about NCRAR is available at www.ncrar.org.