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Pioneering Norfolk device to tackle dizziness given £850,000 grant

PUBLISHED: 11:06 31 July 2018 | UPDATED: 11:06 31 July 2018

An artist impression of the CAVA device. Picture: Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital

An artist impression of the CAVA device. Picture: Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital

Archant

Thousands of patients could be relieved of dizziness sooner after a pioneering project was given an £850,000 boost.

The CAVA team - from left to right, Jacob Newman, John Phillips and Stephen Cox. Picture: Nofolk and Norwich University HospitalThe CAVA team - from left to right, Jacob Newman, John Phillips and Stephen Cox. Picture: Nofolk and Norwich University Hospital

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hosiptal (NNUH) has joined forces with the University of East Anglia (UEA) to develop a wearable piece of technology that hopes to speed up the diagnosis of the most common causes of the condition.

Early prototypes of the Continuous Ambulatory Vestibular Assessment (CAVA) device have been around since 2012, but the grant from the Medical Research Council will allow the teams to complete the design and begin clinical trials.

Dizziness is one of the most common reasons for a doctor to visit patients over the age of 75 - but due to the nature of the condition, it can pass quickly.

The device - which uses five electrodes attached to a person’s head - will allow patients to be evaluated during an attack of dizziness.

Principal investigator John Phillips, a consultant ear, nose and throat surgeon at the NNUH, said they would start clinical studies later this year and would seek volunteers to test the device for 30 days.

“Dizziness can be caused by a problem with the inner ear, but dizziness can also be caused be a whole host of conditions, including heart and circulatory conditions, neurological conditions, metabolic conditions (such as diabetes) and even anxiety,” he said.

“As such it can often be very hard to identify the exact cause of sporadic attacks of dizziness in many patients. Currently, our CAVA device is entirely unique, and provides us with a special opportunity to gain insight into the workings of the ears and brain. As a home-grown device trial, this is the first trial of this kind that NNUH has ever sponsored.”

CAVA is lightweight, and can be worn day and night to monitor head and eye movements.

Once trials are over, it is hoped the device will be made widely available to avoid a delay in diagnosis and better use NHS resources.

The CAVA team have worked with Wright Design Limited in Cambridge to make the device, with special computer software being developed to analyse the data.

For more information about the project, click here.

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