In an interview with Rolling Stone, Johnson said he found a specialist willing to try an experimental treatment on him. According to the interview, the treatment involved an expert coming to his house once a month for three years to figure out a solution.
“The first time he came down he brought this thing that looked like a car battery,” Johnson told Rolling Stone.
When Johnson asked what the device was, he was told it would be miniaturized, according to the article. He described the process as boring, with wires, computer screens, and noises.
“It was well worth it,” Johnson told Rolling Stone. “The only thing I can tell you is that it uses the bone structure in the skull as a receiver.”
After asking audiologists about Johnson’s treatment, it is still unclear exactly how his hearing loss was treated.
One audiologist suggested the device used might be a bone conduction device, which “can be useful when faced with an unsolvable middle ear problem.”
Musicians are nearly four times more likely to develop hearing loss than the general public, according to a 2014 study in Occupational & Environmental Medicine. Additionally, they are 57 percent more likely to develop tinnitus, or ringing in the ears.
Johnson says that he was first warned by doctors of his hearing loss back in 2016, when the band was finishing up its “Rock or Bust” tour. Doctors warned him that he faced permanent deafness if he did not leave the stage and attend to a worsening hearing loss.
“I was literally getting by on muscle memory and mouth shapes,” Johnson told Rolling Stone. “There’s nothing worse than standing there and not being sure…”
Johnson claims he was already aware that he had tinnitus and was having trouble hearing guitar tones. However, he blamed his hearing loss largely on his love for race cars. (He has raced at Daytona Speedway and hosts his own TV show about cars. He says car racing cost him his hearing. One day he forgot to put in his ear plugs under his helmet. His left eardrum punctured and bled.)
Concert goers and those working with loud equipment or in loud environments often use ear plugs – now available in a variety of shapes and styles with differing levels of hearing protection.
Any option to protect your hearing is good when used properly. The trick is using it any time your hearing might be compromised. Wearing ear protection every now and then or occasionally is just not good enough.
Read more: Hearing protection
As for Johnson, he rejoined the band this past year for their new studio album “Power Up.”
According to the RollingStone article, doctors have told him that he is good to return to the studio. He says he hopes to see enough improvement to join his mates on the concert stage again.