Why not ear exercises?

It’s too bad you can’t exercise hearing muscles.

Case in point:  About 20 years ago I sustained a severe colles fracture of the right wrist.  I had to have surgery and  had Frankenstein bolts coming out of my wrist, poking through a hole in my cast.  My arm kept swelling and my hand kept turning a lovely shade of purple so  the cast had to be popped multiple times. I think it took something like 2 months for the swelling to go down enough that I could be fully casted for 3 more months.  Physical Therapy (PT) was brutal and went on for many months before I found out that there were a number of functions I was not getting back – ever (or so I was told).

Over the years I’ve gotten back the ability to oppose my thumb and fingers. – not much strength in the grip, but I can hold a pen for awhile before the hand says, “Nope, all done now!” and lets go on it’s own.  (shrug – that’s why we have computers, right?)

Unfortunately, the ear isn’t made up of tendons, ligaments and muscles that make it work.  We’ve got lots going on in there, but they’re all things that vibrate. We have an eardrum, the auditory bones, the semicircular canals, and the cochlea.  What photos like this one from photobucket show leaves out the hair cells that are the receptors for both hearing and balance.

Damage to those hair cells results in Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL).  That seems to be what happened to me when I sustained a serious head injury at age 18 months.

I’ve got mostly high range loss (including the upper ranges of human speech) and also low range loss from the Meniere’s.  I’ve lost teakettles to high voices, have muffled hearing in the mid-range and then lose it again when I get into the lower tones.   Plus I have the gift of tinnitus – high whine on one side and low on the other.

If the ear were a muscle I could flex I could work out, go to PT or OT in order to help it bend or get stronger.  “Okay, ear hairs, pick up the 5 pound dumbbells and let’s do a flyaway.  One! hold it for one second now.  Controlled down.”   Granted, I’m happy to have a state of the art hearing aid and things like an iCom and FM system to help me out, but as I’m doing exercises at the gym to get in shape or keep my right wrist at the peak of what is left of it, it seems to me that it is a shame we can’t do PT and OT for the ears.


  1. Marsha – Well written! Like you, I wonder why can’t our hearing muscles heal and get better? As a person with progressive sensorineural hearing loss, I’ve come to the realization that it is what it is. Might as well embrace hearing loss in all its many colors…


  2. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Shanna. I do embrace it, however, there are times I simply wonder why we cannot exercise, stretch, strengthen, tone, shape, or knit our hearing back to a semblance of normalcy. Once gone it seems to be beyond recovery, fragile thing that it is.

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