Category Archives: Vertigo

New Testing for Concussions and maybe Vertigo!!!

The I-Portal from Neuro Kinetics uses goggles (lower left) and a laptop to measure eye movements and diagnose concussions.
The I-Portal from Neuro Kinetics uses goggles (lower left) and a laptop to measure eye movements and diagnose concussions.

It’s not much bigger than a laptop and a set of ski goggles, but workers at Neuro Kinetics, located in O’Hara Township’s RIDC Park, said they’ve created technology that will help diagnose concussions.

It’s called the I-Portal, and it’s awaiting FDA approval.

“This is not quite what Star Trek envisioned, because that is a little bit more smaller, easier, portable, but on the right sort of path,” said Howison Schroeder, president and CEO of Neuro Kinetics.

The company goes back more than 30 years. Its first product used a massive motor-mounted chair and a video camera to watch a patient’s eyes while the chair spun and rocked in a darkened chamber. That technology is still used in about 135 hospitals and clinics worldwide, to help diagnose a slew of balance, dizziness and headache issues.

But even a pared-down version of the system is expensive. It requires a controlled location and a trained professional to make it work.

When Schroeder joined the company in 2001, he saw that the product did not have a lot of growth potential. But he said its core function of finely measuring a person’s eye movements had a great deal of potential.

Using infrared light, cameras can see the eyes moving up and down, left and right, and even twisting. It can also measure the pupil changing and check to see if both eyes are working together.

“And given the level and quality of the technology, we (were) throwing away probably 85 percent of that data. So we have invested heavily in that eye tracking, so that we can keep 99 percent of that data,” Schroeder said.
Neuro Kinetics’ older product.
Credit Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

The eye tracking was coupled with some virtual reality technology and crammed into a pair of goggles hooked to a portable computer. The small, portable system can make measurements in milliseconds.

“This can live in a primary care physician’s office. This can live in a locker room. This can live at a forward base for the military, so this changes the paradigm,” said Schroeder. “As long as this virtual reality stuff, with our very simple geometry, works, well we’ve got the answer and the many tests that we have already done suggests it works great.”

Dr. Michael Hoffer, a professor at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, is doing field testing. The subjects wear the goggles for 12 minutes and watch white dots move through virtual space in very specific ways. As the subject’s eyes track the dots, their eye movements are recorded.

“We’ve tested it on over 200 individuals and it’s very accurate and very reproducible,” said Hoffer, referring to the system, which relies on measuring reflexes. “Reflexes can’t be faked and we have a very discrete way of looking at things. And we can pick up changes, even if they are little changes.”

The accuracy of the Neuro Kinetics product at picking out a concussion is around 96 percent, according to Schroeder.
Data of eye movements and a view of the test subject’s eyes are seen on the test screen created by Neuro Kinetics.
Credit Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

But that must be proven, because the FDA says there is no set, “concussion indication.” That means there is no mechanical or imaging test that can diagnose a concussion.

Currently, the only way to diagnose a concussion, or any health problem often detected through abnormal eye movements, is for a highly-trained specialist to do a subjective examination.

“They know what they are looking for,” Schroeder said. “What we are able to do now, is we are able to pull that art, turn it into science, which is going to allow us to put that at the front lines of health care.”

The testing is being done three days after a concussion, in an effort to get solid and specific data. But the goal is to eventually offer diagnoses and treatment recommendations as early as one hour after the injury, and at seven and 14 days.

Neuro Kinetics hopes to get the needed FDA approvals by 2017.

In this week’s Tech Report calendar:

The Pittsburgh Tech Council will host BioBlast Thursday night. It’s billed as an opportunity for the life sciences community to connect with each other in a social setting. It’s one of the region’s longest standing biotech happy hours.

In other tech news:

II-VI Incorporated released results for its second fiscal quarter, by saying cash flow from operations was up 26 percent. Company CEO Francis Kramer said, despite sluggishness in China and the Saxonburg-based company’s industrial markets, he is very encouraged about the prospects ahead for II-VI.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh said they have a way to move compressed natural gas at a lower cost, without sacrificing safety. Researchers are utilizing metal-organic frameworks to develop a new type of storage system that would adsorb the gas like a sponge and allow for more energy-efficient storage and use.

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How Veda can help patients with Vestibular dysfunction.

Etrily’s Story

Have you ever had a doctor tell you that there was nothing wrong with you, that your vestibular symptoms are all in your head, and that you should just get out of bed and stop pretending to be sick?

That’s what happened to Etrily L. from Oxfordshire, England. For over ten years doctors dismissed her vertigo, imbalance, nausea, headaches, and brain fog as psychological symptoms. They even tried to get her children taken away from her.

“I didn’t have the physical or mental strength to fight,” says Etrily, whose voice quivered when describing her vestibular journey. And friend, I have to tell you, I couldn’t help but get choked up listening to the terrible trauma Etrily has endured.

That’s why I’m passionate about VEDA’s mission to inform, support, and advocate for the vestibular community, and, friend, I know that you are too! Together, we can ensure that patients like Etrily receive the care and validation they deserve.

Etrily once had a successful career as a holistic therapist. She described herself as a workaholic, and says she loved helping people find health and happiness through changes in their lifestyle.

Etrily operated her business out of a five-star hotel. In 2004, while at work, she went to check on supplies in the stockroom.

Without knowing what happened, she awoke hours later in the hospital. Hotel staff said that a heavy metal ceiling tile had fallen on her head, causing a concussion. She couldn’t talk or feel anything from the neck down. “I was scared and confused,” says Etrily. “I didn’t know what was happening.”

The hospital did all the normal scans, which showed no abnormalities, so they discharged her, claiming that nothing was wrong.

But something was definitely wrong. Etrily couldn’t even walk out of the hospital, so friends had to carry her. That night she passed out and was brought to the emergency room, where they again declared her “well.”

In the years later, Etrily went from doctor to doctor, all while fighting to retain custody of her children. It wasn’t until she found neurologist Peter Harvey in 2009 that she was diagnosed with a vestibular disorder.

She became so ill that she couldn’t work. She finally obtained permanent disability, but it wasn’t easy. The medical advisor on her case reported that she was well-dressed and acted normal, therefore there was nothing wrong with her. Finally, she got a judge who understood vestibular disorders and granted her disability claim.

Then Etrily found VEDA. “VEDA gave me many tools and introduced me to people who are in the same situation,” says Etrily. “Others don’t understand that the days you’re down you can’t even brush your teeth, let alone take a shower.”

I am sure this is a sentiment which rings true to so many VEDA members. And that is why the heart of VEDA’s mission is supporting patients like Etrily, who are struggling and have nowhere else to turn.

Thanks to generous donors like you, VEDA is able to provide information to help vestibular patients like Etrily understand what they are going through, tools so they can cope, and a support network so they never have to feel alone.

Today, Etrily is a VEDA Ambassador, sharing her story to help raise awareness about vestibular disorders. “It seems unreal that a whole decade has passed by and I’m finally out of bed!” she exclaims.

I’m sure you can relate to Etrily’s story, and I hope that you, too, have found comfort and help through VEDA’s Community of Support.

You should be proud of what we have accomplished together! With your help, VEDA continues to expand our educational resources while also making great strides toward reducing diagnosis times through our advocacy efforts. Just this week our patient registry exceeded 500 participants, and medical advisors are analyzing the data so that it can be used to increase funding for vestibular research.

VEDA is succeeding in its advocacy work, resulting in greater knowledge about vestibular disorders and the impact they can have on patients.

We need your support now more than ever to build on this momentum.

Please, would you donate $25, $50 or $100 today so that vestibular patients around the world don’t have to suffer alone?

Donate Now

Your gift enables VEDA to:

  • Connect vestibular patients with specialized healthcare professionals
  • Maintain and expand a library of medically-relevant literature on a wide variety of topics related to vestibular disorders
  • Provide one-on-one support to vestibular patients seeking answers, and
  • Bring patients and healthcare specialists together to collaborate on ways to reduce the time it takes to diagnose a vestibular disorder.
Thank you for your support! You give patients like Etrily the chance to reclaim their life, and the reassurance that they are not alone.

– See more at: https://vestibular.org/Year_End_Campaign#sthash.g9CN2pHG.ejM5TGeL.dpuf,

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A life with An Invisible Illness.

Invisible illnesses are just as it sounds invisible, You can’t see them, no obvious symptoms to the naked eye.  That being said, living with a invisible illness is the hardest thing I have ever had to do.  Not only living with the daily symptoms, but living with the unknown.  Will I be able to attend the function on Monday?  Will I be able to drive to my Doctor’s appointment on Tuesday?  What if I get lost?  What if I have a attack?  What If I have a drop attack?  I always carry my medication with me and a bottle of water as if it were a security blanket.  Is it really going to help in this situation? No , but it makes me feel better.  I only will allow my self to drive 3 or so miles and I have to feel better than normal to drive, so its not on a regular basis, I have to have some one drive me places, which makes me feel bad.  My sensory system is in such overload, lights, patterns on carpets, wallpaper, crazy bright colors really bother me.  I can’t handle music even though I am deaf in one ear and going deaf in the other, it causes confusion in my brain.  A lot of people in one area cause confusion.  You loose friends and your co-workers or family members question your illness?  I have never actually wanted anyone to have my disease which is autoimmune disease, Vestibular dysfunction, deafness, fibromyalgsia, extreme fatigue.  But at the same time If they could experience it for one day, maybe they would understand.  Invisible illnesses are not easy to diagnose or treat and most are not curable, I use to hope this MRI is going to show a tumor that can be removed and I will have my life back and that is just not the case, I am meditating which can be a challenge in itself, with all the noise in my head and spinning, eye pain, ear pain.  It’s depressing, but I had to take a new approach to my disease and not let it define me, also had to think of this as a gift! Am I crazy?  Yes I look at this as a gift to understand what others are going through and trying to help them through there journey.  I know it sounds strange, Yes I wish I was healthy but until a miracle happens I can help others.  If any of you are dealing with this world, talk to me, I can try to help you if not support you in your journey.

Have a wonderful Saturday, Kelly

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Accident’s and Menieres

 

Adventures with Fatigue in the Aftermath of an Avocado Disaster

This is going to be a tough one…

The sentences just don’t want to flow. My brain feels likes like mush, and fatigue steals the words off my tongue.

But I expected it this time. In fact, I even tried to prepare for it. Yet here I sit, dizzy, and exhausted…after a full night’s sleep, at 11:00 am. It’s been a hard week to say the least, and this time, Meniere’s is not to blame. Well not directly.

It all started with a simple accident, one careless moment while preparing dinner several weeks ago.

I was in my kitchen on a Friday night, and had decided to cut up an avocado. I sliced it in half and began to cut out the pit, when the knife slipped and went straight into my left thumb. It was a small cut, but it went in deep, and I immediately knew something was very wrong.

As I ran my thumb under the faucet, I couldn’t feel anything. The top of my thumb was completely numb. I sealed the cut closed with liquid bandage and hoped for the best.

A week later, the cut was almost healed, but I still had no feeling in the top of my thumb. I decided to see a doctor. After considerable searching for a local orthopedic hand specialist who accepted my insurance, I was able to book an appointment for the next day.

I’ve had trouble finding good doctors in the past, but this time I got lucky. The doctor couldn’t have been nicer or more patient. He answered all of my questions, but after an X-ray and physical exam he broke the bad news.

I had damaged one of the nerves in my thumb, possibly severed it, but there was no simple way to tell. He explained that there are no tests sensitive enough to be able to see the damage on a nerve that small. The only way to know for sure, and fix it if need be, was exploratory surgery.

The situation had escalated so fast. My doctor explained that, depending on the severity of the damage, the feeling might come back on its own, but there was a chance it never would. And even if it did, scar tissue could develop around the nerve and cause problems later in life.

I also didn’t have a lot time to make a decision. The longer I waited, the less effective surgery would be. I decided later that night that if I didn’t get the surgery, and the feeling never came back in my thumb, I would always regret it. I scheduled the surgery the next day.

A Complete and Total Loss of Momentum:

This was my second surgery in the last year alone. About nine months ago I had to have a surgery to repair a hernia. So I had a rough idea of what to expect this time around.

After my hernia surgery, I had a really difficult time. I was hit by a mountain of brain fog, fatigue, and dizziness that had threatened to crush me. My Meniere’s symptoms had returned with a vengeance. The accompanying exhaustion, boredom, loneliness and resulting depression had lasted for weeks.

But when I started to feel better, I realized what had happened, and I learned something incredibly valuable:

One of the most powerful forces in treating Meniere’s disease is forward momentum.

Before I had my hernia surgery, I was working on exciting projects, exercising and meditating every day, and eating a healthy diet. I had so much momentum behind me.

But then I had the surgery. I was in pain, doped up from the meds, eating comfort foods, and laying around all day. When it came time to transition back into my life, I was stuck.

It was the first time since becoming diagnosed with Meniere’s disease that I had reached a point of complete inertia. I’ve had my share of setbacks over the years, but I had never been so completely out of commission. It took me a long time to find my way out of the hole. It took so much effort to get the ball rolling again.

So when I scheduled the surgery for my thumb, I wanted to try to avoid a repeat of the aftermath of my last surgery. I made a plan, and although I’m having a tough time, it’s nothing like it was before.

Time for Action:

Life always gets in the way. We not only have to face the adversity of Meniere’s disease itself, but we also have to face adversities with Meniere’s disease. Often, we have to deal with both at the same time. But every once in a while, we know what’s coming, and we get a chance to prepare.

My avocado disaster was ultimately an accident, but the damage was done. All I could do was accept that it happened, and get it taken care of. This time though, I knew the challenge was to prevent inertia.

After my hernia surgery, the brain fog was so thick I could barely function. It dragged on for so long. I was starting to lose hope. At some point I realized that it wasn’t going to improve on its own. I needed to do something, anything, to try to get better. It was time to take action.

I focused what little bit of energy I had on two key tasks: creativity exercises and rebuilding my routine.

For years I have used creativity exercises to combat brain fog, and it would always help. But I hadn’t done it for weeks and I knew I needed to up the stakes. I decided to push myself to try something completely new and I started writing creative short stories in response to writing prompts on Reddit. (Click here to read one of my short stories)

It was hard, really brain-achingly difficult. But I would finish a story and for a short while I would feel amazing. I had created something new and accomplished something I never knew I was even capable of. And the fog slowly started to lift. Every day I felt a tiny bit better.

I also started to try to rebuild my routine. I started eating my meals at the same time again, and I cut out the junk food. I couldn’t exercise, but I started going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, making sure to get 9 hours of sleep. It was an agonizingly slow process, but eventually I bounced back.

To keep up momentum after my thumb surgery, I knew what I had to do. I kept the junk food to a minimum. I went to bed early and got more sleep than I usually do. And I kept up my daily creative practice. As hard as it has been to write, I am feeling better now than when I first started writing this article.

Despite my best efforts, it has still been a hard week. But I am grateful to have learned my lesson the first time around. I was prepared and that preparation paid off. After only a week, I am already starting to feel better.

I hope I don’t need surgery again for a long time, but I know that at some point, somehow, something will go wrong. And when it does, I’ll be ready.

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