Low-Cost Earmuff Shown to Significantly Reduce Cast-Saw Noise

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Orthopaedic Nursing


Hearing protection devices reduce cast-saw noise. It would be helpful to identify the devices that are both effective and economical. Prior studies have shown that expensive noise-reduction headphones significantly reduced the anxiety associated with cast removal with a powered oscillating saw. The cost of such headphones, however, is a drawback for some practices and hospitals. It would be helpful to determine whether lower cost ear protection can provide effective cast-saw noise reduction. In addition, it is unclear whether the noise reduction ratings (NRRs), the average sound-level reduction provided by a hearing protection device in a laboratory test, provided by manufacturers accurately characterize the effectiveness for reducing cast-saw noise. Note that noise-cancelling devices do not carry an NRR because they are not designed as hearing protectors. Five ear protection devices with different NNRs were tested. The devices varied greatly in cost and included earplugs, low-cost earmuffs, and noise-cancelling headphones. To standardize the evaluation, each device was fitted to an acoustic mannequin with high-fidelity ear microphones while a fiberglass spica cast was cut. An additional test was run without hearing protection as a control. The low-cost devices significantly reduced the saw noise, with the exception of earplugs, which had highly variable performance. The noise reduction was similar between low-cost earmuffs and the high-cost earphones when the noise-cancelling feature was not active. Active noise cancelling provided further reductions in the noise level. Patients can experience high anxiety during cast removal. The current study shows that low-cost earmuffs significantly reduce cast-saw noise. Patient care settings may be more likely to offer hearing protection that is one twenty-fifth the cost of noise-cancelling headphones. An NRR appears to be a reliable guide for selecting hearing protection that reduces cast-saw noise.





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