Friday, August 20, 2010

The Boston Marathon, The Long Island Marathon, and Hearing Loss

Hi All!

Yes, it’s been a while. And, any rumors that you might have heard suggesting that I haven’t blogged because I was embarrassed that I didn’t finish the Boston Marathon are completely untrue. And, I know I said I would blog a bit more consistently (sorry! Just lost track of time), and I am absolutely sure you are all dying to know how I did in the Boston Marathon, so, here’s the scoop.

(Hopefully, you recognize the tongue in cheek tone of the previous sentence. I’m pretty sure you’ve heard no rumors about me, and that you really don’t care about the Marathon. That’s just me.

Funny, I had a long talk with Tina about Facebook. She wanted me to set up an account (and a Twitter account, too!) for Spark, but I just don’t get it. What is the purpose of Facebook? Does Facebook actually serve society?

Tina pointed out that if you’re offering useful information, or networking to find resources, then the answer is “yes.”

But, don’t most people just give their “status,” post pictures of their vacation/party/pets, “poke people,” write on someone’s wall, or whatever else it is you do on Facebook?

Really, isn't Facebook just about publishing yourself?

I don’t personally think I’m all that interesting. But, the last time I blogged, I did mention that I was training for the Marathon, so, to anyone who read the last blog and is the least bit curious . . . )

I finished the Boston Marathon, ran a negative split (which means I ran the second, harder half of the race (the part with “Heartbreak Hill”) faster than the first part, and managed to qualify for the 2011 Boston Marathon. So, I guess I did good.

Two weeks later, I ran the Long Island Marathon. Probably not the smartest thing I ever did. And, it was ridiculously hot and windy, to boot -- two things that make distance running a really bad experience. The race was great until mile 21 when both my legs completely cramped up, but, remembering what I tell the kids at the center – “the race ain’t over till it’s over” -- I struggled on for five more miles. Somehow, despite slowing down dramatically over those last miles, I managed to run my best time ever, again qualifying for Boston, and took third place for my division (I even got a little award to prove it!). So, I guess I did good.

And, if I can help it, I’m never running another marathon again.

Now, on to more interesting things.

“Study: 1 in 5 US teenagers has slight hearing loss”, August 17, 2010 by The Associated Press / CARLA K. JOHNSON (AP Medical Writer). This article, reported in Newsday, cites to a study that found “[a] stunning one in five teens has lost a little bit of hearing, and the problem has increased substantially in recent years.”

What could be causing this? Well, isn’t it obvious?

“Some experts are urging teenagers to turn down the volume on their digital music players, suggesting loud music through earbuds may be to blame — although hard evidence is lacking. They warn that slight hearing loss can cause problems in school and set the stage for hearing aids in later life.”

Specifically, the researchers found the most of the hearing loss was "slight," defined as inability to hear at 16 to 24 decibels. As the article put it, “[a] teenager with slight hearing loss might not be able to hear . . . his mother whispering ‘good night.’"

And, clearly, there would be an impact on attention and learning. As noted, “[t]hose with slight hearing loss ‘will hear all of the vowel sounds clearly, but might miss some of the consonant sounds’ such as t, k and s.” It’s kind of hard to learn and pay attention when you can’t hear the teacher correctly. "Although speech will be detectable, it might not be fully intelligible." See Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.

There’s no question that hearing issues, like any other sensory issue, can cause problems. (That is why we incorporate an auditory training program at Spark (see

None of this should come as a surprise. What is shocking to me is that the “experts” can only “suggest” that digital devices and earbuds “may” be to blame because “hard evidence is lacking.”

This, in spite of a spike in hearing loss, and a 2010 Australian study that linked use of personal listening devices with a 70 percent increased risk of hearing loss in children!

Are you kidding me?? If the study concluded that playing music too loudly directly into our ear canals caused minor hearing loss, would digital music player manufactures go ballistic because they might lose some sales, or heaven forbid, be sued?

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