Dr. Richard Kopke understands better than most doctors how military service can cause hearing loss.
Kopke spent 26 years in the U.S. Army before joining the Hough Ear Institute (HEI), where he is CEO. HEI is dedicated to restoring natural hearing, which disproportionately affects military veterans – more than half of U.S. troops who return from combat suffer from hearing loss and tinnitus.
“HEI brings together world-class experts to research treatments for hearing loss and related conditions like tinnitus,” Kopke said. “We understand how hearing loss and tinnitus can affect veterans and contribute to depression and PTSD. We’re honored to assist military members. They give up so much to keep us safe, and they shouldn’t have to sacrifice their hearing.”
HEI’s most important work is researching groundbreaking treatments for noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus. The organization and its partners have developed a pill, known as NHPN-1010, which is awaiting Phase 2 testing. HEI is raising funds to conduct a proof-of-concept study to test the pill’s ability to treat tinnitus.
According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, more than 933,000 veterans receive disability compensation for hearing loss, and nearly 1.3 million received compensation for tinnitus.
In addition, many veterans score normally on hearing tests but have difficulty understanding speech. This condition, called auditory processing disorder, is often associated with blast exposure.
Tinnitus is the number one disability among veterans and affects at least 1 in 10 American adults. People with tinnitus describe ringing sounds, a buzzing sound, a high-pitched whistle, or numerous other sounds.
Worldwide, 466 million people suffer from hearing loss and one in seven individuals experience tinnitus. Of those, 48 million Americans are affected by hearing loss, with 50 million suffering from tinnitus, including 58,000 Oklahomans.
At this time, no drug treatment or cure exists for noise-induced hearing loss or tinnitus.
“We believe our research will ultimately help millions of people worldwide, including our soldiers and veterans,” Kopke said.
For information, visit houghear.org.