Dr Daina Sturnieks

RESEARCHER PROFILE

Senior Research Officer Conjoint Lecturer, School of Medical Sciences, UNSW

+612 9399 1062


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, is Executive Board Member of the Australian and New Zealand Falls Prevention Society and Advisory Committee Member for the NSW Falls Prevention Network and NSW Ministry of Health -funded Active and Healthy website.

Projects Dr Daina Sturnieks is currently involved with

CURRENT PROJECTS

Vision, Posture and Balance Study (Optic Flow) – COMPLETED

The aims of this study was to determine:

  1. Whether balance, posture and standing body alignment and muscle activity are affected by vision differ between young and older people and between older people at low and high risk of falls
  2. Whether an over-reliance on vision for balance control might increase the risk of falls

The study involved an assessment with a series of interesting tests evaluating your vision, strength, reaction time, sensation, balance and mobility.

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Vision, Posture and Balance Study (Optic Flow) – COMPLETED

A RCT of cognitive-only and cognitive-motor training to prevent falls in older people

This study aims to investigate the benefits of balance training and brain training on physical functions (balance and mobility), cognitive functions, general health and accidental fall events in people aged 65+ years.

The smartstep training system has been designed to enable you to undertake training in your own home, by playing engaging and enjoyable computer games. The system connects to a TV or computer monitor. The games are played with either a step mat (Figure 1) or a touch pad (Figure 2). These games have been designed to train important balance and cognitive functions, while also being fun. You may recognise some of the games, such as Space Invaders and Tetris (Figure 3).

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A RCT of cognitive-only and cognitive-motor training to prevent falls in older people

Interactive step training to reduce falls in people with MS

More than 50% of people with multiple sclerosis will fall over a 3 month period. A clinical trial is being conducted in 500 people with multiple sclerosis who have difficulties with mobility and balance. We hope results of this study will provide solid scientific evidence to include in fall management programs for people with this condition.

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An interactive step training RCT to reduce falls in people with multiple sclerosis

Adapting the Physiological Profile Assessment to assess upper limb function

This study will produce simple tests that can be used in population studies and patient group clinics. It will provide normative data for documenting the type and severity of upper limb Motor Impairments and provide the impetus to develop strategies to improve function in ageing and other disorders, such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis and peripheral neuropathy.

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Adapting the Physiological Profile Assessment (PPA) to assess upper limb function

Everyday fatigue and fall risk in older people

This study will determine whether a busy day of physical activity (‘real world’ fatigue) impacts balance and mobility measures in older people. It will determine the importance of fatigue as a fall risk factor in older people, and provide significant information with respect to the value of mitigating fatigue as a fall prevention strategy.

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Everyday fatigue and fall risk in older people

WEB MANAGER ANZFPS

NSW FALLS PREVENTION NETWORK

ACTIVE AND HEALTHY

UNSW RESEARCHER DATABASE

UNSW SCHOOL OF MEDICAL SCIENCE

RESEARCH TEAM

Vicki Smith

VICKY SMITH Executive Assistant

Jessica Turner

JESSICA TURNER Research Assistant

JOANNE LO Research Assistant

Cameron Hicks

CAMERON HICKS Research Assistant

Esther Vance

DR ESTHER VANCE Senior Research Assistant

DANIELA MEINRATH Masters student

DR YOSHIRO OKUBO

Joana Caetano

JOANA CAETANO PhD student

Mayna Ratanapongleka

MAYNA RATANAPONGLEKA Research Assistant

Cathie Sherrington

PROF CATHIE SHERRINGTON Senior research officer

PUBLICATIONS

Transfer effects of step training on stepping performance in untrained directions in older adults: A randomized controlled trial.

Okubo Y, Menant J, Udyavar M, Brodie MA, Barry BK, Lord SR, L Sturnieks D

Step training only in the forward direction improved stepping speed but may acutely slow response times in the untrained diagonal direction. However, this acute effect appears to dissipate after a few repeated step trials. Step training in both forward and lateral directions appears to induce no negative transfer effects in diagonal stepping. These findings suggest home-based step training systems present low risk of harm through negative transfer effects in untrained stepping directions.

Tailored multifactorial intervention to improve dizziness symptoms and quality of life, balance and gait in dizziness sufferers aged over 50 years: protocol for a randomised controlled trial.

Menant JC, Migliaccio AA, Hicks C, Lo J, Meinrath D, Ratanapongleka M, Turner J, Sturnieks DL, Delbaere K, Titov N, McVeigh C, Close JC, Lord SR

Sensorimotor and Cognitive Predictors of Impaired Gait Adaptability in Older People.

Caetano MJD, Menant JC, Schoene D, Pelicioni PHS, Sturnieks DL, Lord SR

Superior executive function, fast processing speed, and good muscle strength and balance were all associated with successful gait adaptability. Processing speed appears particularly important for precise foot placements; cognitive capacity for step length adjustments; and early and/or additional cognitive processing involving the inhibition of a stepping pattern for obstacle avoidance. This information may facilitate fall risk assessments and fall prevention strategies.

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