€3.5m to improve diagnosis of balance disorders

February 11, 2014

GPs and other doctors will be equipped with a new, online information system to help diagnose and treat a range of balance disorders, thanks to €3.5m European Union funding for EMBalance. This three-year project will be coordinated by UCL and involve researchers from ten different partners, spread across seven European countries.

Balance disorders (e.g. vertigo, Ménière's Disease, migraine-related dizziness etc.) affect more than a third of the UK population at some point in their lives and falls are the most common cause of accidental death in those aged 75+. However, diagnosis of balance disorders is rarely straightforward and can often take months, or even years.

The human balance control system is incredibly complex, relying on the brain to synthesise a range of information from the eyes, the joints/muscles, and the vestibular system (motion, equilibrium, spatial orientation). This complexity, coupled with the fact that there are few balance disorder specialists in the primary and secondary healthcare systems, means that receiving a correct diagnosis can be a long, drawn-out process for patients.

"Balance is crucial for unimpaired mobility," says Dr Doris-Eva Bamiou, primary investigator for the EMBalance project at the UCL Ear Institute. "When balance deteriorates it hampers people's independence and can often lead to falls and injuries, especially in the elderly.

"In addition to the serious risk of injury, there is also a large socioeconomic cost associated with these conditions," continues Dr Bamiou. "The majority of people with chronic balance disorders experience a range of psychological disorders. Older adults in particular may become isolated, while a quarter of working age adults affected by balance disorders will take time off work while they wait to receive the correct diagnosis and treatment.

"Through EMBalance we aim to produce a computer-based information system that will support clinical decision-making. This should enable accurate and early diagnosis of balance disorders and ensure patients receive a prompt and efficient treatment plan."

Over the next sixteen months the EMBalance team will produce a database of balance-related information which will be combined with computerised balance models to produce a patient-specific tool capable of accurately simulating an individual's complex physiological balance system.

Clinical trials are expected to begin in Spring 2015 at University College London Hospitals and at clinical sites in Belgium, Germany and Greece. The trials will assess the effectiveness of the EMBalance tool in producing the correct diagnosis and management plan by non-experts.

At the end of the three year project, the EMBalance system will be made available over the internet and will equip non-experts with a powerful diagnostic tool to help identify and treat balance disorders.
-end-
Notes to editors

Contacts:


To speak to a UCL Press Officer, contact David Weston on +44 (0) 203 108 3844 (out of hours 07917 271 364) or d.weston@ucl.ac.uk

EMBalance website:

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/embalance

Funding:

The EMBalance project has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement No 610454.

Partners:

The EMBalance project will involve four clinical academic institution partners across Europe: The EMBalance project will involve six technical partners across Europe:

University College London

Related Balance Articles from Brightsurf:

It's all about the right balance
Collaborative work of research groups at the University of Würzburg and the TU Dresden has provided important new insights for cancer research.

Immune system -- Knocked off balance
Instead of protecting us, the immune system can sometimes go awry, as in the case of autoimmune diseases and allergies.

Finding balance between green energy storage, harvesting
Generating power through wind or solar energy is dependent on the abundance of the right weather conditions, making finding the optimal strategy for storage crucial to the future of sustainable energy usage.

Quantum jump tipping the balance
Measuring tiny differences in mass between different quantum states provides new insights into heavy atoms.

Examining associations between hearing loss, balance
About 3,800 adults 40 and older in South Korea participating in a national health survey were included in this analysis that examined associations between hearing loss and a test of their ability to retain balance.

Pancreatic cancer blocked by disrupting cellular pH balance
Scientists at Sanford Burnham Prebys have found a new way to kill pancreatic cancer cells by disrupting their pH equilibrium.

Stop or go: The cell maintains its fine motility balance with the help of tropomodulin
Tropomodulin maintains the fine balance between the protein machineries responsible for cell movement and morphogenesis.

Need to balance guides development of limb-body coordination
The need to feel balanced drives the development of coordination between body and limbs as zebrafish larvae learn to swim, a new study finds.

Scientists weigh the balance of matter in galaxy clusters
A method of weighing the quantities of matter in galaxy clusters - the largest objects in our universe - has shown a balance between the amounts of hot gas, stars and other materials.

A matter of fine balance
How does the brain's circuitry adjust itself to make sense of the world despite the hugely different signals it receives?

Read More: Balance News and Balance Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.