Perforated Ear Drum
NOTES from HockeyNet
Suggested Cap Improvements
Suggested Cap Improvements
This year I suffered a perforated ear drum simply swimming underwater laps
at 3 ft. I've played UWH over ten years without an ear problem - even when
kicked on the ear cup. Go figure. It seems that it does not take a
blow to cause a perforated ear drum. Perhaps a cold or ear infection, who
knows. I would have blamed UWH had I been playing.
I've seen 4 eardrums ruptured over the last 15 years - all while the players
concerned were wearing polo caps. In each case, the cause appeared to be
a kick to the head (get your head out of the way!), up under the bottom
edge of the cap - between the back of the jaw and the neck. .....
Add this one to the list of injuries: Perforated ear drum while wearing
a properly secured waterpolo cap. I don't know what did it. Definately
not the puck.
I had my eardrum ruptured in the same manner- a heel to the ear - while
playing at 1998 Worlds in San Jose against South Africa. After sitting
out the remainder of that game and the next one, I was able to continue
with the rest of the tournament although the doctor said it wasn't wise;
but then again, who am I to follow wisdom? I had to keep one of those
balls of wax in the ear for the rest of the tournament, but I got through
it OK. It's not the end of the world.
Sean, Club Puck, California
Way back when a certain Chicago player would get perferations in his eardrum
simply through the underwater hockey diving process. His solution
(with a 100% success rate over many years) was to use decongestants before
every practice. Thank you Jim for your testimony that not all such
injuries are caused from the outside!
When I got my eardrum ruptured (without headgear) it was anything
but a perf: more like an angled flap. My father took me to the hospital
and got to see the scope they use while doing the repair: his words were
"your ear looks like a butcher shop". Although I've heard of ruptures
while wearing headgear I am very hesitant to "improve" the earcup.
If you want the best protection then at least look into the four types
two types of water polo helmet (oval earcup and "too big" earcup)two
types of wrestler's headgear (Cliff Keen molded plastic and the two ear
cups with straps variety--this latter type has an aluminum cup as part
of the ear piece and is, in my view, the severest protection (but I still
wear my Cliff Keen and believe there to be no practical difference among
the technologies for uwh).
Audiologist Marshall Chasin of Toronto said to prevent eardrum injury,
stuff a wrinkled up, small, thin plastic bag in each ear protector to disperse
and absorb force. He also thought Dr. Baril's suggestion of making holes
at the rear of the cup was good to help hearing, as pressure entering there
could not enter the ear canal. He did not like the idea of using foam in
the cups because a more rigid mass such as that won't give protection.
Dr. Baril also suggested putting hot glue in every opening of the cup
except on the top and bottom. He said that holes can be added to the sides
to hear better. Drill holes mainly at the back so the force hits the back
of the ear first to reduce impact.
I do encounter a couple of perforated eardrums in my practice (I'm an audiologist).
My suggestion is to put hot glue in every openings of the plastic cup except
thoses on the top and bottom. The force that you get from a fin hitting
the cup will not be directed in the ear canal. You can also add small holes
on the side of the cup to hear better. Drill the holes mainly on back so
that any force will first encounter the back of the ear, this should reduce
the impact considerably. I submitted this idea a long time ago.
I think Margaret Francis is on the right track. If the force passing through
the protective cup is alligned with the ear canal, the ear drum can get
excessive pressure. She knows of someone who put foam on the inside of
the plastic cup to reduce this force. I think that may not help much if
the foam is flexible and compressible. It would transfer the force
unless it was made to not move.