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Mater patients spun out by Rotary Chair in Queensland first testing

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Mater patients spun out by Rotary Chair in Queensland first testing

In a Queensland-first, Mater is able to test patient’s dizziness and balance using a new Rotary Chair which has previously only been accessible interstate.

The $170,000 spinning technology, funded through a Queensland Health New Technology Funding and Evaluation grant, is the latest in diagnosing vestibular problems, more commonly referred to as dizziness and balance issues.

Mater Senior Audiologist Caroline Balke explains patients are seated in the Rotary Chair, wearing goggles to record their eye movements. The Rotary chair then rotates to stimulate the vestibular system in both ears so that abnormalities can be identified.

“A specific degree of eye movement should be elicited by a specific degree or rate of rotation. Different rates of stimulation and types of rotation can be used to identify peripheral vestibular impairment as well as some forms of central dysfunction,” Ms Baulke said.

Vestibular issues occur in approximately 15 per cent of adults and are one of the primary reasons for patients over the age of 75 to visit their General Practitioner.

Ms Balke said dizziness and balance problems can significantly affect health, safety and quality of life.

“For older patients in particular, falls risk can be significantly increased for those with vestibular impairment. In children, vestibular impairment can also impact on gross motor development delays, cognitive and reading difficulties.”

Patient Racheal Johnson was referred to Mater’s Audiology Department by her GP following a worrying incident at work.

“I started feeling really strange and dizzy, then got pins and needles down one side of my body and felt like I was falling to one side. My colleague put me on the floor and I then lost consciousness. With clear test results in emergency, I was discharged to my GP for follow-up testing.”

“It was a process of elimination: my MRI came back clear, I also had my eyes checked. It’s quite scary when no one can confirm what’s causing the dizziness,” said Racheal.

“My GP referred me to Mater’s Audiology team for testing in the Rotary Chair. Caroline established that my ears weren’t the issue and suggested I see a vestibular physio and neurologist―quickly putting me on the path to recovery.”

Ms Baulke said a GP is the best starting point if suffering from dizziness, but it isn’t uncommon for patients to then see three or four health professionals before they have any answers.

“If it is unclear what is causing an individual person’s problems, Vestibular Function testing helps narrow down the scope to guide patients and their doctors as to what treatment and management options may work best for their condition, such as recommending referral to an ENT specialist, neurologist, vestibular physiotherapist, dietician etc.”

“The detailed results of the Rotary Chair allow audiologists to bridge the gap of differing results from other tests. We can also track deterioration of vestibular function in patients who may be affected by treatments such as chemotherapy, or track improvement in patients who undergo Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy to monitor their progress.” said Ms Baulke.

“Adding the Rotary Chair into our battery of tests, offers another testing option for patients who have ear infections, grommets, wax in the ear, neck problems or simply don’t tolerate another test very well. It’s good to be able to have this flexibility for the first time in Queensland.”

Patients can be referred to Mater’s Audiology service via their GP.

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Tags: audiology