By Samantha Birk, Public Affairs InternJune 15, 2017
Dr. LaGuinn Sherlock, a research audiologist with the U.S. Army Public Health Center stationed at the National Military Audiology and Speech Pathology Center at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, was recently elected to serve as Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Tinnitus Association. She previously served on the board for two years. The ATA is the largest national nonprofit organization working towards a cure for tinnitus, and works towards educating the public on the condition.
Tinnitus is a condition where an individual perceives sound when there is no external sound present; it is one of the most common complaints among military personnel with 30 percent of service members reporting symptoms. It is especially widespread among service members because they may be around loud Humvees, on the artillery range or in combat situations. While it does not affect everyone the same way, it can affect Soldier readiness and effectiveness by impacting concentration, sleep, short-term memory and emotional well-being.
Sherlock previously worked as a clinical and research audiologist in the academic medical setting for 25 years, before moving to Walter Reed in 2014 to pursue a full-time position in research. She has clinical and research expertise in tinnitus and hyperacusis, a health condition characterized by excessive sensitivity to certain frequencies and volumes. She is currently working towards making more wearable hearing protection for service men and women.
"The best part of my job as a research audiologist is evaluating options in hearing protection that can help prevent hearing loss and tinnitus, and determining objective ways of measuring the impact of tinnitus on daily function and quality of life," said Sherlock.
Because tinnitus is a symptom of hearing loss and not a diagnosis, it can be difficult for people to find help. Sherlock wants to use her position as ATA board chair to educate physicians and allied health professionals and letting everyone know there is help.
"One of my goals as board chair is to improve awareness about the help currently available to people with tinnitus," said Sherlock.
She aims to improve specialty care for the 50 million Americans who report some degree of tinnitus.
Sherlock received a bachelor's degree in speech and hearing sciences from Arizona State University, a master's degree in audiology from the University of Maryland and a doctorate degree in audiology from the University of Florida. When she is not at work, she enjoys making cards. She is a mother of two and a wife to an Army veteran.