Researchers have developed a new vibrating device using bone conduction technology, that can identify the causes of dizziness.
Half of older adults over 65 years suffer from dizziness and problems with balance. However, the current tests to identify the causes of such problems are painful and can risk hearing damage.
The novel type of vibrating device, developed by researchers from the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, is placed behind the ear of the patient during the test.
According to Bo Hakansson, Professor at Chalmers, the vibrating device is small and compact in size, and optimised to provide an adequate sound level for triggering the reflex at frequencies as low as 250 hertz (Hz).
But in bone conduction transmission, sound waves are transformed into vibrations through the skull, stimulating the cochlea within the ear, in the same way as when sound waves normally go through the ear canal, the eardrum and the middle ear.
In this technology, detailed in the journal Medical Devices: Evidence and Research, the sound levels which patients are exposed to can be minimised.
“The new vibrating device provides a maximum sound level of 75 decibels. The test can be performed at 40 decibels lower than today’s method using air conducted sounds through headphones,” said Karl-Johan Freden Jansson, postdoctoral researcher at Chalmers.
“This eliminates any risk that the test itself could cause hearing damage,” Jansson added.
The benefits also include safer testing for children, and that patients with impaired hearing function due to chronic ear infections or congenital malformations in the ear canal and middle ear can be diagnosed for the origin of their dizziness, the researchers said.