Touma provides free hearing protection for music staff and students

Dr. Joseph Touma of Touma Hearing Centers has made a contribution to help provide hearing protection for music students and faculty through Marshall University’s Center for Wellness in the Arts.

Thirty Etymotic earplugs were distributed to students at the university’s Speech and Hearing Center earlier this spring, according to Dr. Karen McNealy, chair of the university’s Department of Communication Disorders.

"Awareness is the key to helping music students prevent irreversible hearing damage that can impact the rest of their lives, not only when playing their instruments but otherwise," McNealy said.

She noted how important Touma’s support has been for the growth of the university. As a renowned otolaryngologist and a neurotologist in the area, Touma said he has always been loyal to Marshall and hopes to provide hearing protection to future students.

EarplugDistribution2_Spring2016_rev1"A large part of what we do as a team is not only to improve or repair hearing, but also try to prevent hearing loss by minimizing the exposure in the first place," Touma said. "My audiologists brought this program to my attention and felt it would be a good way to impact young musicians. It is imperative that musicians protect their ears to avoid permanent damage after intense exposure to loud sounds. This is a small investment in these students, who provide all of us so much entertainment throughout the year."

Noise-induced hearing loss is one of the few forms of hearing loss that are preventable. McNealy said Marshall’s Center for Wellness in the Arts will continue to promote hearing conservation through education on hearing health and the distribution of ear plugs for hearing protection.

To learn more about the Center for Wellness in the Arts, visit


Photos: (Above) Communication disorders graduate student Jen Billups gives a set of Etymotic earplugs to music education major Jacob Lambert. Thirty Etymotic ear plugs were donated by local otolaryngologist and neurotologist Dr. Joseph Touma and distributed through Marshall’s Center for Wellness in the Arts. (Below) Etymotic ear plugs reduce most noise to safe levels while preserving the clarity of sounds. The plugs replicate the natural response of the ear canal so that when sound enters the earplug, it is reproduced exactly the same as the ear would hear it, only quieter.