UNT earns award for research on hearing loss in musicians

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- The University of North Texas College of Music and Dr. Kris Chesky, director of UNT's Texas Center for Music and Medicine, have earned the 2010 Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Award in the Services sector from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), in partnership with the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA).

The award, presented at the 35th Annual Hearing Conservation Conference Feb. 26 in Orlando, Fla., was given to UNT and Chesky for raising awareness of the importance of hearing loss prevention in musicians.

Chesky and researchers at UNT's Texas Center for Music and Medicine have been studying ways to prevent noise-induced hearing loss from music exposure and discovering ways people can save their hearing at an early age, thus improving their overall health and quality of life.

"Receiving this award from NIOSH is a high honor, and we are so pleased that our work is raising awareness about this issue on a national level," Chesky said. "I believe that every person learning about music in the United States, from early grade school through college, must be taught to understand that music is a sound source capable of harming hearing.  This issue needs to be brought to the attention of everyone, particularly to those that direct music ensembles in colleges and public schools across the nation."

UNT takes steps to prevent noise-induced hearing loss in musicians by measuring sound levels produced during instructional activities, educating music students of the possible consequences of excessive exposures, and advising them of resources to protect their hearing. Ensemble directors and teachers discuss noise-induced hearing loss and prevention methods with their students.

In addition, Chesky developed and teaches a course, "Occupational Health: Lessons from Music," for undergraduate students of any major. The class focuses on musculoskeletal, hearing and mental health issues associated with musical occupations.

The NIOSH awards were given for hearing loss prevention programs in the construction, manufacturing and service sectors to honor individuals or organizations for innovation in hearing loss prevention and dedication in fostering and implementing new and unique advances in the prevention of hearing loss.