NeuRA Magazine #30

NEURA PARTNERS WITH MMG TO HELP OLDER AUSTRALIANS

NeuRA and Mark Moran Group (MMG) have partnered to help deliver NeuRA’s age-related research to MMG centres to improve health and wellbeing outcomes of older Australians, enabling them to live better for longer.

The first stage of the partnership includes the development and rollout of a new app-based wellbeing assessment tool that can predict falls among older people with 75% accuracy. The FallScreen+ tool will be trialled at MMG facilities before being rolled out nationally.

“By making breakthroughs with NeuRA and saving one life, or potentially tens of thousands of lives, we are creating a future where older Australians will continue their interests, their passions, their health and being celebrated in their community,” said MMG Co-Founder Evette Moran.

L-R: Minister for Health, the Hon. Brad Hazzard, MMG Co-Founders Mark and Evette Moran, NeuRA’s CEO Prof Peter Schofield AO

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Cortical activity during balance tasks in ageing and clinical groups using functional near-infrared spectroscopy

Prof Stephen Lord, Dr Jasmine Menant Walking is not automatic and requires attention and brain processing to maintain balance and prevent falling over. Brain structure and function deteriorate with ageing and neurodegenerative disorders, in turn impacting both cognitive and motor functions.   This series of studies will investigate: How do age and/or disease- associated declines in cognitive functions affect balance control? How is this further impacted by psychological, physiological and medical factors (eg. fear, pain, medications)? How does the brain control these balance tasks?     Approach The experiments involve experimental paradigms that challenge cognitive functions of interest (eg.visuo-spatial working memory, inhibitory function). I use functional near-infrared spectroscopy to study activation in superficial cortical regions of interest (eg. prefrontal cortex, supplementary motor area…). The studies involve young and older people as well as clinical groups (eg.Parkinson’s disease).   Studies Cortical activity during stepping and gait adaptability tasks Effects of age, posture and task condition on cortical activity during reaction time tasks Influence of balance challenge and concern about falling on brain activity during walking Influence of lower limb pain/discomfort on brain activity during stepping   This research will greatly improve our understanding of the interactions between brain capacity, functions and balance control across ageing and diseases, psychological, physiological and medical factors, allows to identify targets for rehabilitation. It will also help identifying whether exercise-based interventions improve neural efficiency for enhanced balance control.
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