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NeuRA Magazine #29

New Research


The 1,000 Brains Study is a ground-breaking research project to identify the elements in the brain that cause life-changing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other types of dementia. This study will focus on the key unresolved question: why do some of us develop devastating neurodegenerative diseases, while others retain good brain health?

The study will not only compare the genomes of people who reached old age with those who have died from neurodegenerative disease, but it will also conduct post mortem examinations to compare the brain tissue in these groups as well. Collecting and researching brain tissue takes place at NeuRA’s Sydney Brain Bank.

The Director of the Sydney Brain Bank at NeuRA, Dr Claire Shepherd, said Brain Banks are essential to underpin research into neurodegenerative disorders. “We can collect brain tissue and do our own research on this in the hope that we can find a cure or a treatment for these diseases and disorders,” said Dr Shepherd.

The 1,000 Brains Project is about understanding the genetics behind neurodegenerative disorders.

“We hope to sequence the genome of these people and understand what genetic risk factors and genes contribute to the disease process,” said Dr Shepherd. Holding the genetic information as well as the clinical information and the brain tissue greatly enriches the research outcomes that can be achieved.



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Own Your Balance

Research investigating the impacts of cognitive behavioural therapy and balance programs on fear of falling, funded by Mindgardens. Falls and fear of falling affect many older people and can impose limitations upon daily activities. Over one third of community dwelling older people fall each year with about 15% of falls being injurious. However, two thirds of older people express a fear of falling during common daily activities, making it more common than falls itself. Fear of falling has been associated with needless restriction in physical and social activities, and subsequent deterioration of health and wellbeing. Previous research has suggested that fear of falling can be reduced through cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and balance exercise programs. However, these face-to-face treatments are resource intensive and not readily accessible to people. Furthermore, the effects of these treatments on fear of falling are small and often do not last beyond the duration of the program. By utilising technology and providing tailored physical activity guidance we are aiming to reduce a fear of falling in an accessible, efficient and lasting way. A thee-arm randomised clinical trial will be conducted in 189 community-dwelling older adults with a substantial concern of falling. Participants will be randomly allocated into one of three groups in order to test whether a self-managed CBT intervention, alone or in combination with a graded balance activity program, can reduce concerns about falling in older adults when compared to usual care. We are collaborating with the Black Dog institute to provide a home-based cognitive behavioural therapy program that addresses a fear of falling. We will also be utilising our cutting-edge balance program StandingTall to provide a graded balance program.   Related studies: https://www.neura.edu.au/project/reducing-fear-of-falling-and-activity-avoidance-in-older-adults-with-disproportionate-levels-of-fear-of-falling/ https://www.neura.edu.au/project/standingtall-plus-a-multifactorial-program-to-prevent-falls-in-older-people/ https://www.neura.edu.au/project/standing-tall/