2012 BC Balance and Dizziness Disorders Society Awards
A total of $10,000 in grants for research into improving treatment of balance and dizziness disorders was awarded in the inaugural year of our awards program. To a group of researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) went $5000; an equal amount was awarded to a group at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver.
Read about the projects:
Led by Dr. Desmond Nunez, Associate Professor and Head, UBC Division of Otolaryngology, with co-investigators: Dr. Joshua Gurberg; Juzer Kakal, MSc; Dr, Neil Longridge; Art Mallinson, PhD; Dr. Warren Mullings; and Dr. Gusta Van Zweiten.
Summary of Project: Inner-ear balance and dizziness disorders can be caused by dysfunction in one or more sensory areas in each ear: the three semicircular canals, utricle and saccule. The question proposed by this project was, if an individual has only one of these ten areas affected, would they have the same amount of symptoms or problems as someone who has several areas affected? If more than one area is affected, it seems reasonable to hypothesize that the problem might be bigger.
Two tools were used to answer the question. The first was a patient questionnaire asking subjects to report about their symptoms. The second was a series of tests to assess balance and inner ear sensory apparatus function. Statistical analysis was done to see if there was a correlation between the self-assessment and the diagnostic tests results in support of the hypothesis.
Diagnostic tests used:
- computerized dynamic posturography (CDP) – measures postural control while standing in either static or dynamic conditions.
- VEMP (vestibular evoked myogenic potential) test – assesses if the saccule and utricle components of the inner ear are working properly; and
- videonystagmography (VNG) – gives a general idea about how an individual responds to stimulation of the semicircular canals.
As of May 2015, the researchers had collected and analyzed data on 104 patients with dysfunction of the utricle or saccule. None of this group had a semicircular canal problem. Analysis of this preliminary data suggests that a single deficit seems to be as much of a problem as a deficit affecting several areas of the inner ear balance system.
A more definitive answer to the question posed requires more data collection and analysis. When Dr. Nunez reported on this project at a BC Balance and Dizziness Disorders Society public meeting on May 20, 2015, he said, “I hope to give you an update at a later date when we have something more robust to say about these results.”
Top of Page
Led by Dr. Jane Lea, Division of Otolaryngology. Other group members: Kris Gadareh, mechanical engineer and Department of Physics Chair at Douglas College; Leo Lee, senior biomedical engineering student at Simon Fraser University (SFU); Dr. Ted Bojanowski, otolaryngologist; and Dr. Brian Westerberg, otologist/neurologist and Head of the Division of Otolaryngology at Providence Health Care.
The purpose of this study was to develop and test a low cost portable video goggle device that can be lent to patients to take home and wear during their dizzy spells thus documenting their eye movements.
The prototype was designed to meet the following parameters: low cost and portable; single infrared camera; safe for clinical use; record video file in avi/mpeg/mp4 format; minimum 30 frames per second (fps); no fixation; battery powered, light-weight and comfortable.
The total materials cost for the final product was less than $200. Future work on this project includes: minor design tweaks; ensuring safety testing; extending battery power; and improving the video quality for portable recording. Further study with patents using the device at home and capturing eye movements is also needed – Ethics and Health Canada approval is required prior to proceeding.