Dr. Warren Brown is an audiologist with the Bureau of Veterans Affairs and a clinical director for the Special Olympics Healthy Hearing discipline. Brown has volunteered in at Wellness Park for several years and became a clinical director (leader of screenings in his discipline) back in November 2016. During this year’s Texas Winter Games, the seven Healthy Athletes disciplines are helping Special Olympics Inc. test hand-held tablets that will be used during Healthy Athletes screenings during the World Winter Games in Austria in March.
Healthy Hearing screenings check athletes in several different areas, like what it looks like inside their ears, as well as testing the ear drum and inner ear. The screenings note whether athletes passed their hearing screening, or whether they need referrals for earwax removal or medical management of the middle ear or inner ear. The screenings also note whether an athlete needs a full hearing test or if they need hearing aids or other assistive devices.
The 2017 SOTX Winter Games are Brown’s sixth games participating with SOTX. “I got interested in helping as a student, and got hooked as most people do and I decided to become a clinical director once I got my doctorate and had the medical credentials to do so.”
Brown, who grew up in Austin and now lives in Houston, said that doing these screenings is rewarding. “Giving back to a community that needs help and is at risk in so many issues – and making sure these athletes don’t fall through the cracks as happens so often – is meaningful. Every person that we can screen and help keep them from falling through the cracks is someone who can live a longer and richer life. That’s always rewarding to be able to do that.”
Brown encourages anyone who’s interested in volunteering to do so. “There’s always something that can be done” whether it’s helping fill out paperwork, perform pre-screening interviews or making popcorn. “Once you get involved, there’s definitely a drive to continue. It’s addictive. I took a vacation day to come out here today. I don’t get a ton of them, bit I’m glad to do it. I get a lot of personal satisfaction out of this,” he said.