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.
The aims of this study was to determine:
The study involved an assessment with a series of interesting tests evaluating your vision, strength, reaction time, sensation, balance and mobility.
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).
VICKY SMITH Executive Assistant
JESSICA TURNER Research Assistant
JOANNE LO Research Assistant
CAMERON HICKS Research Assistant
DR ESTHER VANCE Senior Research Assistant
DANIELA MEINRATH Masters student
DR YOSHIRO OKUBO
JOANA CAETANO PhD student
MAYNA RATANAPONGLEKA Research Assistant
PROF CATHIE SHERRINGTON Senior research officer
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.
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.