How clear face masks can benefit individuals with a brain injury
Since the coronavirus outbreak, it has become the norm for people to wear protective face masks. With the UK Government changing its advice this month to make it compulsory for anyone travelling on public transport to wear a facemask, the question arises, what about individuals with hearing loss?
It is estimated that 11 million people in the UK have hearing loss. There are many causes, one of which may be from an acquired brain injury. This could be caused by damage to the tiny bones in the ear or by the way in which sound is processed in the brain.
Audiologists often categorise hearing loss as ‘mild, moderate, severe or profound’. With mild hearing loss, individuals will generally be able to hear a conversation in a quiet room but may struggle if there is background noise. Those with profound hearing loss will be unable to hear what anyone is saying in almost all circumstances. In addition to hearing loss, a brain injury may cause tinnitus, where noises can be heard which are not caused by sounds from the outside world, these noises are often described as ringing or buzzing and make it much harder for anyone with hearing loss to hear.
For many with hearing loss, lip reading can help them better understand what they see and hear, allowing them to join in with conversations. As very few people know sign language, many are reliant on being able to lip read. With the nation now being told to cover their face with a mask however, this becomes very difficult.
Being able to see an individual’s face is not only important for those who lip read, it can also help to reduce anxiety for those with a brain injury. Staff at Rotherham Stroke Rehabilitation are helping to reduce anxiety for stroke patients by wearing a badge with a photograph of themselves without a mask. They were finding it very difficult to reassure patients whilst wearing a mask, particularly during speech and language therapy as they could not smile and reassure patients.
In Switzerland, an entirely transparent surgical mask has been developed, with the plan for this to be fully available by July 2021. Fortunately, more people are becoming aware of the need for clear facemasks with individuals and charities now resulting to making their own. More focus will be needed however, to make clear masks widely available.
If you or a loved one have suffered a brain injury as a result of an accident, or medical negligence, Bolt Burdon Kemp can assist. We are passionate about helping clients to achieve the best outcome following an injury and work hard to work hard to ensure that our clients can receive the best rehabilitation and support possible.