UK researchers, from the University of East Anglia and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, have developed a wearable headset for diagnosing dizziness. A clinical investigation of the Continuous Ambulatory Vestibular Assessment (CAVA) device was recently published in the journal Scientific Reports.
After capturing 9000 hours of eye and head movement data from a group of healthy subjects who wore the device for up to 30 days, researchers were able to develop a computer algorithm with 99% accuracy at detecting nystagmus–the rapid, involuntary eye movement pattern associated with dizziness/vertigo.
Continuous Ambulatory Vestibular Assessment
The onset of dizziness accompanying vestibular dysfunction is often unpredictable and episodic, making it unlikely for certain conditions that an episode of dizziness will coincide with a patient’s visit to the audiologist or ENT office (such as Meniere’s disease for example) .
Although many traditional and contemporary balance tests are available, they only provide a ‘snapshot’ of vestibular function in the absence of a dizziness episode. The Continuous Ambulatory Vestibular Assessment (CAVA) device is described as “a novel, medical device for recording eye movements continuously over a period of thirty days”.
While worn, the device continuously records horizontal and vertical eye movements and an accelerometer captures head movement.
The device is composed of two main components: a bespoke single-use sensor array that adheres to the participant’s face, and a small, reusable, electronic logging unit. The device is said to be lightweight and durable, and can be worn continuously throughout the day and night.
The CAVA device is intended to be worn in non-clinical settings by patients suffering from suspected dizzy attacks. At the end of a thirty day monitoring period, the data captured by the device could then be downloaded and analyzed offline by computer algorithms for signs of nystagmus. Episodes of dizziness detected by the system would be presented to a clinician for further analysis and could be used to support a diagnosis.
Establishing New Field of Medicine? Vestibular Telemetry
The success of trial with the CAVA device has proven the potential of filling a demonstrated clinical need, and “for establishing a new field of medicine; vestibular telemetry”. Having demonstrated the capability of the device on healthy volunteers, researchers are preparing to undertake a further trial on patients suffering from dizziness and vertigo.
By deploying the device on dizzy patients, researchers believe they may be able to gain new insight into the varying patterns of nystagmus presented by the different dizziness conditions, “which have not been systematically observed hitherto”.
Phillips, J. S., Newman, J. L. & Cox, J. S. An investigation into the diagnostic accuracy, reliability, acceptability and safety of a novel device for Continuous Ambulatory Vestibular Assessment (CAVA). Scientific Reports, volume 9, Article number: 10452 (2019)