Chinese Medicine doctors to research balance

By Published On: 06/06/2023
Associate Professor Zhen Zheng is leading a balance testing project at RMIT University in Melbourne

I am delighted that a team of researchers from Melbourne’s RMIT University will investigate the reliability and accuracy of Balance Mat data.

Under the leadership of Associate Professor in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Dr Zhen Zheng from the RMIT University Department of Health and Biomedical Sciences, the project will involve testing the postural sway of 40 adults aged over 18 years on the Balance Mat. The research fits neatly into one of Dr Zheng’s main interests: that of translating research into practice.

She has been involved with the Balance Mat since pre-Covid times when she was involved in a similar project begun by Dr Isaac Selva Raj, who has now moved to Perth as Adjunct Lecturer in Exercise Physiology at Edith Cowan University.

I first met Associate Professor Zheng at the 9th Victorian Healthcare Week Expo held in Melbourne from 23 to 24 July 2019, where I was exhibiting a prototype Multimetric Balance Mat system. The system was extremely popular with the healthcare audience. I remember a constant queue of people waiting to have their balance tested (see picture below). The fast results were a real boon that enabled more than 150 people to have their balance tested over the two days.

Zhen was so impressed by the system’s potential that she suggested a collaborative research project on the spot. We shook hands on the initiative and the first RMIT research project was born.

Dr Isaac Raj testing balance on a Balance Mat prototype
Pre-Covid research

Dr Isaac Selva Raj (pictured in the RMIT gym above) tested the Balance Mat against a force plate in February 2020, carrying out 30 tests on both the Balance Mat and a Kistler force plate in the standing positions of normal, tandem, left leg and right leg. For the technically minded, here is what he found:

  • for medio-lateral COPx (the centre of pressure displacement) there was a statistically significant strong correlation between the Balance Mat score and the Kistler standard deviation. The Spearman correlation coefficient was 0.76; and
  • for anterior-posterior COPy (the centre of pressure displacement) there was a statistically significant strong correlation between the Balance Mat score and the Kistler standard deviation. The Spearman correlation coefficient was 0.73.

The conclusion? There was no statistical difference in the results obtained from balance testing on the Balance Mat and the Kistler force plate. That was music to my ears because it was the first validation of the Balance Mat as an accurate testing device. Sadly, Covid shut down Isaac’s research for the next couple of years. However, his report was one of many documents I relied upon as support for my successful Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) application.

Post-Covid research

For the current RMIT University project Associate Professor Zheng is collaborating with Associate Professor in Biomechanics Noel Lythgo and Dr Hanife Mehmet. Like Dr Zheng, Dr Mehmet is a Chinese Medicine practitioner. Once again, the research will investigate the validity of the balance score obtained from the Multimetric Balance Mat by comparing it to the postural sway measures obtained from a gold standard balance instrument.

In 2020, Dr Mehmet completed a Doctor of Philosophy (Complementary Medicine) at RMIT University with a focus on geriatrics. Clearly, she is another right person at the right time to conduct this new study. Her PhD research investigated frailty in older populations and produced a reliable objective assessment tool that was tested in a Melbourne aged care nursing home.

Hanife has said she is passionate about research and working towards further developments in the effective screening of frailty within clinical practice. She is always striving to reduce the risk of adverse health outcomes such as falls and to improve the quality of life of older individuals, so this project fits her perfectly. It will provide an insight into the validity and reliability of the Balance Mat for its use in clinical settings.

Chi & harmony

During the early years of Balance Mat development I never dreamt that there would be so many different types of research that this system could enable – dizziness, falls, concussion management, ophthalmology – these are just a few of the areas where the system is being used in universities across Australia.

Balance testing stage set for chi & harmony

One of the first inklings of the high level of interest my invention could engender was way back in 2017 when the Harmony Club run by the ACT Chinese Australian Association Inc. included balance testing as part of a positive ageing course. That course explored the topics of aged care, falls mitigation and the importance of actively engaging in harmony-enhancing activities. Once again, people queued enthusiastically to have their balance tested.

To think that two doctors of Chinese Medicine would be so interested in testing balance on my invention is marvelous to me. It feels as if this is bringing us full circle: after such a long disruption in the commercialisation journey thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, once again it feels as if the stage is set for chi & harmony.

Chinese Medicine doctors to research balance

By Published On: 06/06/20231 Comment
Associate Professor Zhen Zheng is leading a balance testing project at RMIT University in Melbourne

I am delighted that a team of researchers from Melbourne’s RMIT University will investigate the reliability and accuracy of Balance Mat data.

Under the leadership of Associate Professor in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Dr Zhen Zheng from the RMIT University Department of Health and Biomedical Sciences, the project will involve testing the postural sway of 40 adults aged over 18 years on the Balance Mat. The research fits neatly into one of Dr Zheng’s main interests: that of translating research into practice.

She has been involved with the Balance Mat since pre-Covid times when she was involved in a similar project begun by Dr Isaac Selva Raj, who has now moved to Perth as Adjunct Lecturer in Exercise Physiology at Edith Cowan University.

I first met Associate Professor Zheng at the 9th Victorian Healthcare Week Expo held in Melbourne from 23 to 24 July 2019, where I was exhibiting a prototype Multimetric Balance Mat system. The system was extremely popular with the healthcare audience. I remember a constant queue of people waiting to have their balance tested (see picture below). The fast results were a real boon that enabled more than 150 people to have their balance tested over the two days.

Zhen was so impressed by the system’s potential that she suggested a collaborative research project on the spot. We shook hands on the initiative and the first RMIT research project was born.

Dr Isaac Raj testing balance on a Balance Mat prototype
Pre-Covid research

Dr Isaac Selva Raj (pictured in the RMIT gym above) tested the Balance Mat against a force plate in February 2020, carrying out 30 tests on both the Balance Mat and a Kistler force plate in the standing positions of normal, tandem, left leg and right leg. For the technically minded, here is what he found:

  • for medio-lateral COPx (the centre of pressure displacement) there was a statistically significant strong correlation between the Balance Mat score and the Kistler standard deviation. The Spearman correlation coefficient was 0.76; and
  • for anterior-posterior COPy (the centre of pressure displacement) there was a statistically significant strong correlation between the Balance Mat score and the Kistler standard deviation. The Spearman correlation coefficient was 0.73.

The conclusion? There was no statistical difference in the results obtained from balance testing on the Balance Mat and the Kistler force plate. That was music to my ears because it was the first validation of the Balance Mat as an accurate testing device. Sadly, Covid shut down Isaac’s research for the next couple of years. However, his report was one of many documents I relied upon as support for my successful Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) application.

Post-Covid research

For the current RMIT University project Associate Professor Zheng is collaborating with Associate Professor in Biomechanics Noel Lythgo and Dr Hanife Mehmet. Like Dr Zheng, Dr Mehmet is a Chinese Medicine practitioner. Once again, the research will investigate the validity of the balance score obtained from the Multimetric Balance Mat by comparing it to the postural sway measures obtained from a gold standard balance instrument.

In 2020, Dr Mehmet completed a Doctor of Philosophy (Complementary Medicine) at RMIT University with a focus on geriatrics. Clearly, she is another right person at the right time to conduct this new study. Her PhD research investigated frailty in older populations and produced a reliable objective assessment tool that was tested in a Melbourne aged care nursing home.

Hanife has said she is passionate about research and working towards further developments in the effective screening of frailty within clinical practice. She is always striving to reduce the risk of adverse health outcomes such as falls and to improve the quality of life of older individuals, so this project fits her perfectly. It will provide an insight into the validity and reliability of the Balance Mat for its use in clinical settings.

Chi & harmony

During the early years of Balance Mat development I never dreamt that there would be so many different types of research that this system could enable – dizziness, falls, concussion management, ophthalmology – these are just a few of the areas where the system is being used in universities across Australia.

Balance testing stage set for chi & harmony

One of the first inklings of the high level of interest my invention could engender was way back in 2017 when the Harmony Club run by the ACT Chinese Australian Association Inc. included balance testing as part of a positive ageing course. That course explored the topics of aged care, falls mitigation and the importance of actively engaging in harmony-enhancing activities. Once again, people queued enthusiastically to have their balance tested.

To think that two doctors of Chinese Medicine would be so interested in testing balance on my invention is marvelous to me. It feels as if this is bringing us full circle: after such a long disruption in the commercialisation journey thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, once again it feels as if the stage is set for chi & harmony.

  • The Neurometric Balance Mat is measuring the balance ability of elderly Singaporeans at the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI). Pictured is Mr Leow Zhun Hong (study senior clinical research coordinator).

Research into balance and sensory health

08/03/2024|0 Comments

A team of leading ophthalmology researchers who have been using the Neurometric Balance Mat in Singapore for the past nine months have provided me with this brief research update. Known as the PopulatION HEalth and Age-Related ...