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Dr Kim Delbaere, Profs Steve Lord and Jacqueline Close

Falls, Balance and Injury

RESEARCH CENTRE

FALLS, BALANCE AND INJURY RESEARCH CENTRE

The Falls, Balance and Injury Research Centre (FBIRC), directed by Professor Stephen Lord, conducts research into understanding human balance, fall risk factors and strategies for prevention of falls in older people.

Falls are a major contributor to the burden of disease in older people and a major public health problem and clinical groups with balance disorders. Maintaining balance involves highly complex processing of peripheral sensory information and precise coordination of motor responses. Falls result from the complex interplay between impairments in these physiological functions, pathological ageing and the environments we negotiate on a daily basis. There can be myriad contributing factors, including drugs affecting cognitive function, deconditioning due to inactivity; disease processes such as Parkinson’s disease and stroke; and syndromes such as dementia and delirium.

One of the most serious consequences of a fall is a hip fracture. There are approximately 20,000 hip fractures in Australia every year. A hip fracture is a devastating injury for an older person and for many results in pain and lasting disability which directly impacts on the ability to live independently. For some a hip fracture can result in a move to residential care or death.

Preventing falls and effectively managing fall related injury is a key research and health priority. The Falls, Balance and Injury Research Centre (FBIRC) was established in 2014 and brings together complimentary research of three senior research groups at NeuRA led by Professor Stephen Lord (Centre Director)Professor Jacqueline Close (Clinical Director) and A/Prof Kim Delbaere (Director, Innovation and Translation) addressing fall and fall injury prevention and management.

The overarching aims of the FBIRC involve:

(i) the accurate documentation of falls and fall injuries

(ii) the identification of fall risk factors

(iii) the development of feasible fall prevention strategies and iv) the effective management of people with a fall related injury.

Our falls and injury epidemiology research uses multiple health service databases to examine predisposing factors for injurious falls and changes in patterns of fall injury over time. Our fall risk studies aim to enhance our understanding of human balance and involve investigations of sensory and motor contributions, behavioural factors as well as the contribution of disease processes to falls. Our fall prevention research incorporates components from physiotherapy, exercise physiology, psychology, brain imaging and computer software engineering. These studies comprise:

(i) large randomised controlled trials in people at increased risk of falls (i.e. those with dementia, Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis),

(ii) projects exploring technology-based solutions to prevent falls in older people, and

(iii) projects examining interrelationships among physical, psychological and cognitive factors in older people.

Our effective management of people with a fall related injury focuses predominantly on hip fracture care and includes work on how to best implement effective care in hospitals across Australia.

Specific projects are outlined in the NeuRA Group Leader pages of the Senior Researchers.

Staff

Professor Stephen Lord

Professor Jacqueline Close

A/Prof Kim Delbaere

LATEST NEWS AND EVENTS

Exercise To Prevent Falls in Older Adults Workshop

Exercise To Prevent Falls in Older Adults

Date: Saturday 7th March 2020

Time: 9am – 5pm

Location: NeuRA – 139 Barker st, Randwick NSW 2031

 

Who is this course for? 

For fitness leaders working with older adults. This workshop will help you tailor exercise programs for falls prevention.

 

About this course:

CECs: 6

This continuing education program will equip Fitness Professionals with important information to guide the provision of appropriate falls prevention physical activity and exercise programs for older people. Topics to be covered include the social and economic issues of falls, risk factors for falls, physiological consequences of ageing, biomechanical and physiological principles of balance, and effective falls prevention strategies.

In undertaking the program, participants will be trained to develop safe and efficacious community exercise programs for older adults that are designed in a manner to maximise uptake and adherence of those populations who stand to most benefit from exercise. Through structured learning tasks across a number of different learning formats, participants will acquire the knowledge and ability to identify, develop, demonstrate and implement evidence-based exercise interventions designed to enhance physical and functional capacity and prevent falls and fall related injury.

 

This workshop includes: 

-An overview of the issue of falls in older people

-Understanding balance and ageing

-Evidence-based fall prevention interventions

-Developing fall prevention programs

 

Ticket cost:

$150 including tax, lunch and refreshments. Places are limited.

For further information contact Natassia Smith: n.smith@neura.edu.au

 

REGISTRATIONS CLOSED

 

 

 

Presenters:

 

Dr Daina Sturnieks (Neuroscience Research Australia, UNSW Medicine) –

Dr Sturnieks has a PhD in human biomechanics (UWA). She is Laboratory Manager for the Falls, Balance and Injury Research Centre at NeuRA including a new state-of-the-art Balance and Gait Analysis Laboratory. Her research focuses on understanding biomechanical, sensorimotor and neurocognitive contributions to balance and falls in older people and clinical groups, and randomised controlled trials of novel interventions to prevent falls involving balance, stepping and cognitive training. Dr Sturnieks is active in translating research findings into community, aged care and hospital settings and is Executive Board Member of the Australian and New Zealand Falls Prevention Society.

 

 

 

Sally Castell (Movement Matters) – 

Sally Castell who is the owner and manager of Movement Matters has a physiotherapy, recreational therapy, health promotion and community education background and is a registered fitness leader. She has over 40 years of experience in the health / fitness industry having worked in hospitals, rehabilitation centres, sports clinics, community facilities and retirement centres. Sally is now focusing her expertise and energy to provide support to the older adult with a variety of appropriate exercise programs and resources to suit individual needs and abilities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ms Natassia Smith (Neuroscience Research Australia) –

Natassia Smith is a  Research Assistant at Neuroscience Research Australia, working in Dr Daina Sturneiks team at the Falls, Balance and Injury Research Centre.

 

 

 

 

 


 

For more information contact Natassia Smith: n.smith@neura.edu.au

 

 

 

 

 

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FEEL THE BUZZ IN THE AIR? US TOO.

The RESTORE Trial: Immersive Virtual Reality Treatment for Restoring Touch Perception in People with Discomplete Paraplegia

Chief Investigators: Associate Professor Sylvia Gustin, Prof James Middleton, A/Prof Zina Trost, Prof Ashley Craig, Prof Jim Elliott, Dr Negin Hesam-Shariati, Corey Shum and James Stanley While recognition of surviving pathways in complete injuries has tremendous implications for SCI rehabilitation, currently no effective treatments exist to promote or restore touch perception among those with discomplete SCI. The proposed study will address this need by developing and testing a novel intervention that can provide touch restoration via the primary source of sensory perception: the brain.Complete spinal cord injury (SCI) is associated with a complete loss of function such as mobility or sensation. In a recent discovery we revealed that 50% of people with complete SCI still have surviving somatosensory nerve fibres at the level of the spine. For those with complete SCI this is hopeful news as it means -- contrary to previous belief that communication to the brain had been severed by injury -- that the brain is still receiving messages. This new SCI type is labelled “discomplete SCI” -- a SCI person who cannot feel touch, but touch information is still forwarded from the foot to the brain. The project will use virtual reality (VR) in a way it has never been used before. We will develop the first immersive VR interface that simultaneously enhances surviving spinal somatosensory nerve fibres and touch signals in the brain in an effort to restore touch perception in people with discomplete SCI. In other words, immersive VR is being used to re-train the brain to identify the distorted signals from toe to head as sensation (touch). For example, participants will receive touch simulation in the real world (e.g., their toe) while at the same time receiving corresponding multisensory touch stimuli in the virtual world (e.g., experiencing walking up to kick a ball). This project is the first effort worldwide to restore touch sensation in 50% of individuals with complete injuries. The outcomes to be achieved from the current study will represent a cultural and scientific paradigmatic shift in terms of what can be expected from life with a spinal cord injury. In addition, the project allows potential identification of brain mechanisms that may ultimately represent direct targets for acute discomplete SCI rehabilitation, including efforts to preserve rather than restore touch perception following SCI. RESTORE consolidates the expertise of scientists, clinicians, VR developers and stakeholders from NeuRA and UNSW School of Psychology (A/Prof Sylvia Gustin, Dr Negin Hesam-Shariati), John Walsh Centre for Rehabilitation Research, Kolling Institute and University of Sydney (Prof James Middleton, Prof Ashley Craig and Prof Jim Elliott), Virginia Commonwealth University (A/Prof Zina Trost), Immersive Experience Laboratories LLC (Director Corey Shum) and James Stanley. If you are interested in being contacted about the RESTORE trial, please email A/Prof Sylvia Gustin (s.gustin@unsw.edu.au) and include your name, phone number, address, type of SCI (e.g., complete or incomplete), level of injury (e.g., T12) and duration of SCI (e.g., 5 years).
PROJECT