NeuRA Magazine #20

SLEEP AND BACK PAIN

A new study that seeks to find improved ways to deal with back pain seeks participants.

Edel O’Hagan with a volunteer

Back pain researchers at NeuRA know that there is a shared relationship between sleep and pain. Typically, the higher the pain intensity the worse a person sleeps. Conversely, after a few bad nights’ sleep a person with lower back pain may perceive their pain to be even worse.

PhD student and physiotherapist Edel O’Hagan is currently working on a study that investigates whether using a medication, usually used for sleep disturbances can help people with acute back pain – that is, pain that has lasted less than three months.

“In this trial we are investigating whether improving sleep has a knock-on effect on improving lower back pain intensity,” she explains.

The medication used in the study acts on a neurotransmitter called GABA, which has a number of roles in the brain, but is primarily involved in calming overexcited neurons, such as those involved in transmitting pain.

The procedure involves a visit to NeuRA, where participants are reviewed by a physician and given the intervention tablets – either a sleep medication or a sugar pill. They take one tablet a night for 14 nights. Over this time participants keep a sleep diary and wear a monitor on their back to measure movements during sleep. They will also fill out questionnaires, online on day one, at two weeks and at six weeks.

“Participants don’t need to change anything they are currently doing to manage their back pain,” Edel assures.

It is hoped that this research will identify a new way to stop low back pain from developing into a long-term chronic condition.

Edel, who is part of the McAuley group, is looking to recruit more patients for the study. To get involved, email pain@neura.edu.au or call 02 9399 1618.

See what’s going on at NeuRA

FEEL THE BUZZ IN THE AIR? US TOO.

ReacStep – novel balance training programs to prevent falls in older adults

The ReacStep study is investigating the short-term effects of two balance training programs (i.e. reactive balance training and conventional balance training) on balance recovery from slips and trips in older adults. These programs are designed from evidence-based research and offer a challenging and unique experience to improving balance. The ReacStep team are calling on volunteers who: are aged 65 and over living independently in the Sydney metropolitan community can walk 500m comfortably with mobility aids or rest have not been advised by a medical practitioner not to exercise have no neurological conditions (e.g. Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, dementia, etc.) have no history or lower limb, pelvic or vertebral fracture(s) and/or lower limb joint replacement(s) in the past 6 months have no other existing conditions that may prevent them from exercising (e.g. injury, pain, fatigue, etc.) Eligible volunteers will be subjected to a health and safety screening before they are enrolled and randomly allocated into one of the two groups. Both groups will undertake a 3-week training program with an exercise physiologist, at NeuRA (i.e. in Randwick) as well as a balance recovery assessment at the 4-week time point. Reactive balance training involves intentionally stepping on a sliding tile, stepping over obstacles, trigger-release recovery as well as strength training. Participants will be wearing a full-body safety harness to ensure safety. Conventional balance training involves keeping balance in varying foot positions (i.e. feet together, in tandem or on one leg) whilst performing secondary tasks such as throwing a ball, card sorting, solving a maze or playing computer games. For more detailed information, read the Participant Information Statement and watch the video below. To get involved or to register your interest, click HERE. For all other queries, please contact the ReacStep Team on 02 9399 1002 or reactstep-study@neura.edu.au. HC210350 https://youtu.be/55q5pK0kjqY
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