Dr. Patricia A. Dorn: October 6, 2016

Preventing, Diagnosing and Treating Hearing Loss for Our Veterans through VA Research


Dr. Patricia A. Dorn

Director, Rehabilitation R&D Service
Veterans Health Administration
Department of Veterans Affairs


Hearing loss affects more than 28 million Americans, including more than half of those over age 75. When combined with tinnitus, which is a ringing, buzzing, or other type of noise that originates in the head, hearing issues are the most frequently found service-connected disability among American Veterans.

Some hearing loss can be reversed through surgery or medication. In other cases, hearing loss is permanent, but can be reduced through the use of hearing aids. Though almost all people with hearing loss could be helped by hearing aids, only about one in five uses them. In addition, some Veterans score normally on hearing tests but have difficulty understanding speech. This condition, called central auditory processing disorder, is often associated with blast exposure.

VA researchers, engineers, and clinicians are studying ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat hearing loss. They are also addressing a wide range of technological, medical, rehabilitative, and social issues associated with tinnitus and blast exposure. VA supports designated research programs, the RR&D National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research (NCRAR) in Portland, Ore., and the Auditory and Vestibular Dysfunction program in Mountain Home, TN. In these programs, researchers focus their attention exclusively on hearing loss and associated conditions.

Selected Major Accomplishments

  • Demonstrating the effectiveness of three types of hearing aids in the Hearing Aid Clinical Trial
  • Developing the Progressive Tinnitus Management (PTM) approach to treat tinnitus
  • Finding that a frequency modulation system may help TBI-affected Veterans with normal hearing, but having problems understanding speech

Dr. Patricia A. Dorn, Director of the Rehabilitation R&D Service from the VA is available for you and your listeners on Thursday, October 6, to discuss hearing loss, treatment options, prevention tips and the RR&D National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research and research program on Auditory and Vestibular Dysfunction.

More About Dr. Patricia A. Dorn:

Dr. Patricia A. Dorn began a life-long interest in serving people with disabilities, when as a Middle School student she volunteered at a center serving individuals with physical and cognitive needs. This interest eventually led to her becoming an audiologist and serving those with hearing impairment in a variety of clinical and research settings. Today, Tricia is Director of the Rehabilitation Research and Development Service, which is in the Office of Research and Development of the Veterans Health Administration, in Department of Veterans Affairs. She has served in VA for nearly 14 years. She earned a baccalaureate degree from Michigan State University in speech and hearing science. She attended the Ohio State University to obtain her MA in audiology and Purdue University for her doctorate in audiology and hearing science. She completed a clinical internship in Audiology at Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, New York and was a post-doctoral research fellow and then research scientist at Boys Town National Research Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska.

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