Vestibular balance

HEALTH INFORMATION

Correcting issues of the vestibular system

WHAT WE KNOW

The vestibular system includes the parts of the inner ear and brain that help control balance and eye movements. Our visual system works with our vestibular system to keep objects from blurring when our head moves and to keep us aware of our position when we walk or when we ride in a vehicle. The system may be damaged by disease, aging, or injury.

The vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) is important for maintaining visual stability during tasks that move the head rapidly and unpredictably, for example, as occurs during running or when driving on a bumpy road. The vestibular organs, one in each inner ear, sense rotational and linear head motion and move the eyes to compensate for passive head movements. The vestibular organ can be damaged by disease, degenerative conditions and by chemical or surgical interventions. When both vestibular organs are damaged it can be severely debilitating. The research in this laboratory has two closely related goals: 1) to understand the signal processing mechanisms that control the VOR by analysing vestibular-evoked eye movements and single-unit (vestibular nerve) recordings; and 2) to apply this knowledge of basic vestibular physiology to the diagnosis and treatment of balance disorders in humans.

OUR LATEST RESEARCH

Treating dizziness in older people

Despite effective treatments being available, up to 40% of older people with reported dizziness remain undiagnosed and untreated. A multidisciplinary assessment battery, with new validated assessments of vestibular impairments is required for diagnosing and treating older people with dizziness. This project will therefore aim to conduct a randomised-control trial of a multifaceted dizziness intervention based on a multidisciplinary assessment, and develop a multiple profile assessment of dizziness for use in Specialist Clinics.

Development of a take-home rehabilitation device that improves vision and balance in patients with i

This project will develop a rehabilitation device based on a training technique we invented, which has been shown to significantly normalise the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) response in patients with vestibular organ lesions.

A new mouse model that determines the effects of a unilateral vestibular prosthesis on vestibular pl

Much like a cochlear implant restores auditory function, a vestibular prosthesis restores balance function. It is not clear whether the limited results from vestibular prostheses is due the device not stimulating one component (the otoliths) of the vestibular system essential for self-repair.

The effect of enhanced vestibular efferent transmission on plasticity of the mammalian vestibulo-ocu

We have identified a nerve-pathway crucial for balance adjustment and self-repair. We will test a mouse type that has this pathway genetically made more sensitive to determine whether stimulation of this pathway is a viable approach to improving recovery after balance loss in humans.

What else is happening in Vestibular balance research at NeuRA?

FEEL THE BUZZ IN THE AIR? US TOO.

The cold case of schizophrenia - broken wide open!

‘It is like they were miraculously healed!’’ Schizophrenia is diagnosed by clinical observation of behaviour and speech. This is why NeuRA researchers are working hard to understand the biological basis of the illness. Through hours of work and in collaboration with doctors and scientists here and around the world, NeuRA has made an amazing breakthrough. For the first time, researchers have discovered the presence of antibodies in the brains of people who lived with schizophrenia. Having found these antibodies, it has led NeuRA researchers to ask two questions. What are they doing there? What should we do about the antibodies– help or remove them? This is a key breakthrough. Imagine if we are treating schizophrenia all wrong! It is early days, but can you imagine the treatment implications if we’ve identified a new biological basis for the disease? It could completely change the way schizophrenia is managed, creating new treatments that will protect the brain. More than this, could we be on the verge of discovering a ‘curable’ form of schizophrenia? How you can help We are so grateful for your loyal support of schizophrenia research in Australia, and today I ask if you will consider a gift today. Or, to provide greater confidence, consider becoming a Discovery Partner by making a monthly commitment. We believe there is great potential to explore these findings. Will you help move today’s breakthrough into tomorrow’s cure? To read more about this breakthrough, click ‘read the full story’ below. You are also invited to read ‘Beth’s story’, whose sweet son Marcus lived with schizophrenia, by clicking here.
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