UAE HOSPITAL USES NASA TEST TO DETECT ROOT CAUSE OF DIZZINESS
The hospital has set up a ‘balance clinic’ to support people suffering from prolonged, recurrent dizziness
A Nasa test to assess astronauts’ balance before and after missions, is being used on the ground to support UAE residents suffering from prolonged or recurrent dizziness.
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has launched a multidisciplinary Balance Clinic that uses specialised equipment and a test called EquiTest — originally developed for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration — to determine specific causes of dizziness in a patient.
“When patients come to our Balance Clinic, their main problem is that they don’t have an answer to why they’re feeling this way. Some of them have been feeling dizzy or living in fear of dizzy spells for 5, 10 or even 15 years. I make it very clear to our patients that living with dizziness is not OK,” said Dr Mark Bassim, otologist, Balance Clinic.
Symptoms of dizziness include a loss of balance, lightheadedness, spinning sensation and an inability to walk straight, among others. It can be caused by problems in the inner ear, brain, eyes, or neck, and often involves multiple causes.
“Dizziness can affect a person’s quality of life at the most fundamental level. Patients can go from being active and engaged, to feeling as though they can’t face doing anything anymore. With the right care, the improvement we see in patients is truly fantastic, even in those who had given up hope of ever seeing an improvement,” Dr Bassim added.
For patients affected by dizziness, receiving an accurate diagnosis that identifies the root cause of the symptoms is vital to be able to return to their normal lives.
“One of the real challenges with assessing dizziness and its causes is just how fuzzy descriptions can be. The way people experience and quantify dizziness is unique to them. With the right equipment and expertise, however, we can determine precisely how a person is affected and begin to pinpoint the cause of related symptoms. Once we have a firm diagnosis, we can treat the underlying cause and help our patients feel more firmly planted on the ground and confident in their daily life once again.”
The interactive tests available at the clinic measure a patient’s response to movement with computer readings, delivering an objective assessment of both balance and stability that helps doctors determine the root cause of the symptoms and define a comprehensive treatment plan.
Following diagnosis, patients receive an individual treatment plan and are followed up by a multidisciplinary team. Depending on the cause of their dizziness, they may be treated using medication, surgery, or a combination of both. In many cases, the addition of specialised physical therapy called vestibular rehabilitation therapy can significantly accelerate recovery.
The Balance Clinic brings together otologists, audiologists, and specialised physical therapists, with support from neurologists as required.
DUBAI TO LAUNCH UAE’S FIRST DEDICATED ELDERLY CARE CENTRE
Facility aims to be a centre of excellence for health care for those aged 65 and over
Dubai is to establish the UAE’s first dedicated healthcare centre for the elderly.
The Vita Elderly Care Complex will act as a centre of excellence for healthcare services for both Emiratis and expatriates aged 65 and above.
The facility will include an outpatient geriatric medical centre, an advanced nursing home, an Alzheimer’s centre, an elderly day-care centre, a rehabilitation facility, a ventilated care centre, a home care centre and home health monitoring.
The centre is being developed by Vita, a UAE-based healthcare investment company, in partnership with Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) free zone.
It will be central to plans for Dubai Healthcare City Phase 2, a health and wellness destination located in Al Jaddaf Dubai, overlooking Dubai Creek.
Officials have not said when construction will begin or when the complex is due to open.
“In line with Dubai’s vision to be the global hub for health care, offering the best services for all sectors of society, the signing of this agreement with Vita is a landmark moment for Dubai Healthcare City,” said Jamal Abdulsalam, chief executive of Dubai Healthcare City Authority, the governing body of DHCC.
“We are pleased to unveil this mega project, a testament to our commitment and duty to meet demand for integrated, quality healthcare services for the elderly, a key and growing demographic of the UAE society.”
“As a healthcare enabler, it is imperative to facilitate services for all. The new Vita Care project will see Dubai Healthcare City home to tailored services from paediatric right through to geriatric.”
Although the UAE is home to a largely youthful population, its elderly demographic is growing.
High life expectancy rates and a government drive to encourage more people to lay down roots in the UAE — through the long-term golden visa and the launch of a retirement visa programme for the over 55s — are set to contribute to the rise in the years ahead.
“Specialised medical care and non-clinical services for the elderly are currently not available at optimum capacity in the UAE,” said Abdullah Al Gurg, chairman of Vita.
“Addressing the needs of an ageing population is both a moral imperative and an essential service in the continuum of care. As Dubai continues to provide leading healthcare services to its population, we believe that there is a vital and unmet need for elderly care that must be addressed.
“This is ever more evident in a post Covid-19 world where the elderly have been one of the most impacted and vulnerable sections of society.
“Through the establishment of Vita Care, our aim is to place Dubai as a regional and global leader in this critical area of medical and pastoral care for the elderly.”
DUBAI-DEVELOPED COVID-19 VACCINE TO PROTECT ANIMALS AGAINST VIRUS
The Central Veterinary Research Laboratory is investigating which animals are most at risk from the disease
Scientists in Dubai are preparing to roll out a Covid-19 vaccine for animals that was developed in the early stages of the pandemic.
The Central Veterinary Research Laboratory (CVRL), a state-of-the-art testing centre established in Dubai in 1985, is determining which members of the animal kingdom will benefit most from being immunised.
While the global campaign to vaccine the human population marches on, important strides are also being made to better understand how the virus impacts animals.
The centre is using an Elisa test, which detects antibodies, to analyse 500 samples of blood serum from 19 animal species to look for antibodies against the coronavirus.
Antibodies are specialised proteins produced by the immune system in response to infection or vaccination.
“If we find antibodies, it means they’ve had contact with the virus and most probably they can get sick,” said Dr Ulrich Wernery, the CVRL’s scientific director.
“For vaccination, we should concentrate on the animals that have developed Covid-19 antibodies. Very soon we’ll have results.”
There have already been outbreaks of Covid-19 in animals, including among mink on fur farms, which caught the virus from their human handlers.
Some mink passed the coronavirus back to people, a concerning development since it raises the risk of new mutated forms of the pathogen emerging when the virus crosses the species barrier.
Thousands of mink were culled to stem the outbreaks in fur farms, but vaccination may be able to prevent this happening again.
It could also be employed to protect endangered animals, including zoo animals, where the loss of individuals could further threaten a species.
Camels, which are the focus of much of the CVRL’s work, are not thought to be vulnerable to Covid-19, whereas big cats in zoos may be.
The deaths earlier this year of two white tiger cubs in a zoo in Pakistan and a lioness at an Indian zoo are thought to have been due to Covid-19.
A species is thought to be more likely to be at risk if it has a receptor called ACE2 on the outside of its cells, as the virus can latch onto this and use it to enter the cells and replicate.
Dr Michael Francis, a virologist who has been involved in the development of several animal vaccines, said that so far animal vaccinations against Covid-19 had been “fairly limited”.
Vaccination drive could boost agriculture
However, while animal vaccination for the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 has not been widespread, there are established vaccines to combat other coronavirus infections in animals.
Most animal vaccination against Covid-19 has, Dr Francis said, involved particular species, such as large cats and primates in zoos, which may be able to contract the coronavirus from their keepers.
“I think people are worried about these more precious animals,” he said, adding that if he were responsible for zoo animals he would be “somewhat concerned” about the risk that they could become infected and die.
Farms may also want to vaccinate their animals against Covid-19, as disease can spread easily, particularly under intensive farming conditions.
“If [mink farmers] are allowed to build their farms back up, they could include Covid on the list of diseases they vaccinate against,” said Dr Francis, who is managing director of BioVacc Consulting in the UK.
CVRL’s jab is an inactivated vaccine, made harmless by chemical treatment.
No organisations have yet approached the CVRL to purchase the jab, which was developed in March last year, but the centre could produce batches within a short period.
“We are confident we can produce this vaccine if we are asked because we have already developed this vaccine in a small volume,” said Dr Sunitha Joseph, head of the virology department at CVRL, who has been involved in the Covid-19 research.