Blast exposure and dual sensory impairment: An evidence review and integrated rehabilitation approach

Gabrielle H. Saunders, Katharina V. Echt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Combat exposures to blast can result in both peripheral damage to the ears and eyes and central damage to the auditory and visual processing areas in the brain. The functional effects of the latter include visual, auditory, and cognitive processing difficulties that manifest as deficits in attention, memory, and problem solving-symptoms similar to those seen in individuals with visual and auditory processing disorders. Coexisting damage to the auditory and visual system is referred to as dual sensory impairment (DSI). The number of Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom Veterans with DSI is vast; yet currently no established models or guidelines exist for assessment, rehabilitation, or service-delivery practice. In this article, we review the current state of knowledge regarding blast exposure and DSI and outline the many unknowns in this area. Further, we propose a model for clinical assessment and rehabilitation of blast-related DSI that includes development of a coordinated team-based approach to target activity limitations and participation restrictions in order to enhance reintegration, recovery, and quality of life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1043-1058
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Rehabilitation Research and Development
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Auditory training
  • Blast exposure
  • Blast injury
  • Central auditory processing disorder
  • Dual sensory impairment
  • Rehabilitation
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Veteran
  • Visual processing disorder
  • Visual training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation


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