Melbourne University Seeking Participants For Vestibular Function Study

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Alana

    Melbourne University is seeking children between ages 5 and 12 for a study exploring vestibular function and growth. Four subgroups of children will be studied – typically developing, children with sensorineural hearing loss, children with autism spectrum disorder, and children with neurodegenerative disease. Please see more information on the project below. 

    Project Title: Vestibular function in children
    Principal Investigator: Donella Chisari
    Phone: (03) 9035 9697
    Email: chisarid@unimelb.edu.au
    Ethics Approval: 17-1348H (Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital HREC)
    View the project flyer here.

    Brief Description of the research

    A vast period of growth and motor milestone development occurs in the first 10 years of life.  The acquisition and mastery of these milestones is dependent on maturation and function of the multiple modalities used for balance, comprising of vision, proprioception (sense of awareness or orientation of the body in space) and the vestibular organs (which detect and sense motion). Balance difficulties can arise when sensory information from these systems is disrupted.

    Previous experience has shown that balance dysfunction is a complex problem thought to affect up to 15% of children. Studies to date have shown balance function is influenced by numerous factors including permanent hearing loss, however most literature has focused on specific aspects of balance function (such as proprioception), or not considered the development of the vestibular system over time. Additionally, there exists a gap in knowledge regarding the impact of neurodevelopmental disorder (such as Autism Spectrum Disorder) and neurodegenerative disease on vestibular function development.

    The primary objective of this study is to document vestibular function development in children over time, to inform future management for children with balance difficulties.  There is currently a need to understand the impact of delay or dysfunction of the balance system in relation to overall development.

    Longitudinal data collection will occur for children aged between 5-12 over an eighteen-month period (data collected at six monthly intervals, comprising four assessment points).  Four subgroups of children will be studied – typically developing, children with sensorineural hearing loss, children with autism spectrum disorder, and children with neurodegenerative disease.  Baseline demographics and developmental history will be collected at the initial assessment. At each assessment point, clinical procedures will be used to collect data regarding overall balance function and vestibular function development.  Changes to vestibular function development will be documented over time.

    If you would like more information or are interested in your child participating, please contact:
    Donella Chisari
    T: (03) 9035 9697
    E: chisarid@unimelb.edu.au

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