Neuromonics awarded $1m to study tinnitus treatment for soldiers
7 January 2009
Neuromonics, Inc. has been awarded $1 million from the US Department
of Defense to study the treatment of tinnitus among military service
The Neuromonics Tinnitus Treatment is a clinically proven treatment,
offering long-term relief by comprehensively targeting the neurological
root causes of tinnitus.
Tinnitus, most commonly characterized by ringing in the ears, is one
of the top medical complaints for soldiers returning from Iraq and
Afghanistan, primarily due to excessive noise exposure during combat. In
fact, the American Tinnitus Association reports that tinnitus and
hearing loss top the list of war-related health costs.
Furthermore, the problem is worsening. At the current rate, veterans
with tinnitus-related disabilities will more than double from 390,933 in
2006 to 818,811 in 2011, at a cost to American taxpayers of more than
$1.1 billion (American Tinnitus Association).
“From my visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as speaking to the
many troops from my district, I am concerned about combat-related health
effects on servicemembers,” said Congressman Charlie Dent (PA-15), who
was instrumental in securing funding for the tinnitus study. “Soldiers
are in dire, urgent need of an effective tinnitus treatment to help them
maintain mission readiness, and to return to normal life following
service. This study is critically important to ensuring that military
tinnitus sufferers receive the treatment they need.”
The tinnitus study will evaluate the Neuromonics Tinnitus Treatment
and counseling for active-duty military service members. Trial sites are
expected to include large troop-based military installations. Further
study is expected to include technological changes to the tinnitus
treatment device, as well as evaluating treatment for specific
sub-groups of service members, such as those with post-traumatic stress
disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury (TBI).
The Neuromonics Tinnitus Treatment is currently in use in 30 Veterans
Affairs and six Department of Defense medical centers throughout the US.
It is a compact, non-invasive medical device that delivers a prescribed
acoustic neural stimulus, customized for each patient’s individual
audiological profile, and incorporates specially processed, relaxing
After clinical customization, the patient listens to the device daily
for six-plus months. The stimulus is designed to provide relief and
relaxation in the initial phase of treatment, and then progressively
over a period of several months, to facilitate desensitization to the
tinnitus. In this way, the therapy can help the brain filter out the
tinnitus perception, so that it no longer intrudes on the patient’s
conscious attention, and no longer has a disturbing impact on quality of
life. By targeting the condition’s underlying neurological basis,
Neuromonics may offer enhanced effectiveness for patients compared to
“We are honored that Congress has selected the Neuromonics Tinnitus
Treatment in this vital effort to effectively address the crippling
effects of tinnitus associated with military service,” said Richard
Giancola, CEO of Neuromonics. “We are committed to expanding upon the
positive outcomes seen in previous civilian studies and demonstrating
long-term benefit for the military population.”
Tinnitus among military service members
The military is at high risk for tinnitus, based on excessive
noise-level hazards during combat, training simulations or on airforce
carriers. Many military service members are exposed to sound levels over
140 decibels, and a single exposure can cause tinnitus immediately.
In fact, the Independent Budget for the Department of Veterans
Affairs’ 2008 Fiscal Budget identified the following weapons that
surpass this decibel level: machine guns, F18C handguns, pistols,
rifles, hand grenades fifty feet from a target and towed howitzers.
Furthermore, a 2005 Institute of Medicine report said that
hearing-conservation programs in the military are currently not adequate
to protect service members.
Beyond the suffering caused by tinnitus, the Independent Budget of
Veteran’s Affairs has found that many soldiers’ performance is impaired
during service, due to developing tinnitus and other hearing impairments
prior to active combat. For example, those with auditory impairments are
36% more likely to hear the wrong command in the battlefield.
About the Neuromonics tinnitus treatment
Neuromonics’ non-invasive, FDA-cleared device is customized to the
patient’s unique hearing and tinnitus profile. It delivers a customized
neural stimulus that targets the brain’s auditory pathways and is
believed to aid in neuroplasticity, or the process of neuronal change.
This process appears to be involved in allowing the brain to filter
out the disturbing tinnitus perception. This stimulus incorporates
spectrally modified, customized music, which engages the brain’s
emotional response center, the limbic system, and thereby reduces
Research published in the April 2007 issue of Ear & Hearing
demonstrates the Neuromonics Tinnitus Treatment yields clinically
significant reduction in tinnitus disturbance in more than 90% of
suitable patients in a formal clinical trial setting.
The therapy is delivered via a compact, lightweight medical device.
Treatment typically occurs over an approximately six-month period, with
daily use recommended for two or more hours per day, especially when the
tinnitus is most disturbing. The treatment can take place during regular
activities such as reading, relaxing or computer work.
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