The Atlantic has posted a fascinating aritcle by Janet Horvath, the former principal cello for the Minneapolis Orchestra who suffered an acoustic-shock injury to her left ear during a concert that led to a severe case of hyperacusis. In “A musician afraid of sound,” Horvath writes that the placement of a speaker two feet from her ear left her unable to tolerate noise, including music. The article allows those unfamiliar with hyperacusis to understand the devastation it can cause, particularly when the injury happens to someone for whom music was both a career and passion. Fortunately, after being fitted “with modified hearing aids that…lower[ed] the volume of sound without altering its clarity,” followed by months of desensitization therapy, Horvath was to pick up her cello two years after her injury and play, but in the end she accepts that she would never be an orchestral musician again.
It’s gratifying to see a piece about hyperacusis in a mainstream publication, particularly since so few people are aware that it exists. One hopes that pieces like this one, coupled with recent newpaper articles addressing restaurant noise, help to raise awareness about the noise pollution’s impact on health.
Thanks to Bryan Pollard for the link. Bryan is the founder and president of Hyperacusis Research Limited, a non-profit charity dedicated to funding research on what causes hyperacusis with the the goal of developing effective treatments.