Leaderboard Ad

Otologic Injuries from Head and Traumatic Brain Injury Better Defined

The damaging effects of head and traumatic brain injury have flown mostly under the radar—until recently. With the increasing awareness of these injuries, more patients are seeking out otolaryngology services. Discover how to evaluate and treat otologic damage from these injuries by attending the miniseminar on “Practical Otologic Considerations in Head Injury” from 8 am to 9:20 am today in West Ballroom A.

“With a concerted effort to better address the sequelae of head trauma from the National Football League, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the U.S. military, and others, the general otolaryngologist is likely to see an increased volume of these patients,” said moderator Michael R. Holtel, MD, an otologist at Sharp Rees Stealy Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, San Diego. “Head injury can result in balance problems, tinnitus, facial nerve injury, and hearing loss. We can turn to the military’s research and their university partners’ extensive research and clinical experience in this area to treat more effectively our patients who suffer head and traumatic brain injury.”

The miniseminar will provide an overview of appropriate otologic care for trauma patients likely to present for medical care to the general otolaryngology practice. Speakers will present an update on surgical management of facial nerve injury, manifestations, and treatment of balance disorders after concussion and head trauma, and repair of large traumatic tympanic membrane perforations and hearing loss.

Balance issues, difficulty hearing, and ringing of the ears will be among the most common complaints from those with head or traumatic brain injury presenting to your offices. Often these complaints are handled similarly to those in non-traumatic presentations, but understanding how to diagnose these problems will make you better prepared for those consults from your primary care colleagues.

“Head injury or traumatic brain injury is a multi-disciplinary effort that is not typically addressed in comprehensive manner in a specific specialty’s textbooks, for example otolaryngology textbooks,” Dr. Holtel said. “It’s a relatively new area of investigation. We will try to distill down the lessons learned from the incidence of these injuries and the subsequent research. Hundreds of millions of dollars from military, public, and private sources have been committed to this research.”

In fact, increased awareness of traumatic brain injury has resulted in President Barack Obama announcing his $100 million project to fund brain mapping and brain activity research. Additionally, the head and traumatic brain injury experience of players of the National Football League, as well as those on high school and college football fields, has stimulated awareness of these issues that might drive patients to seek medical care, requiring healthcare providers to conduct a more thorough evaluation. No more, “Oh, he just got his bell rung (brief unconsciousness). He’ll be fine.”

“We have understood that these patients had difficulties after a sports injury or motor vehicle accident, but we now have a better understanding of how to help them,” Dr. Holtel said. “That is why it is so much more of a timely subject. Having a better understanding of how to treat these problems will make us better prepared to manage these patients. We otolaryngologists only represent three percent of doctors out there, but the nature of these injuries will put us on the front lines of otologic care for these patients.”

A panel of seasoned current and former military otologists will present lessons on the otologic manifestations of head trauma: Army Lt. Col. Philip D. Littlefield, MD, former director of neuro-otology at Walter Reed Medical Center and current director of Neuro-otology, Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu; Navy CAPT. Michael E. Hoffer, MD, a neuro-otologist and director, Spatial Orientation Center, Naval Medical Center, San Diego; and Ben J. Balough, MD, former deputy director of clinical research, U.S. Navy Medicine, and current director of neuro-otology, Kaiser in Sacramento, CA. Dr. Holtel has also served as the Hearing and Balance Research program manager for the Army’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC), U.S. Army Medical Readiness and Materiel Command (USAMRMC), at Fort Detrick, MD.