Human balance has evolved into a complex and highly tuned network of reflexes that allows us to stay upright and know where we are in space. The three principal contributors are the vestibular system located in the inner ear, the visual system, and proprioception in our joints. Inputs from each are integrated in the brain. It is an elegant mechanism and one we are generally blissfully unaware of. Until it goes wrong.
Professor Degg will present the first of 2 lectures. He will explain what balance actually is and what we gain from it helped by patients’ experiences. He will simplify the anatomical and physiological mechanisms of balance using a number of models he has developed himself. He will then show how we are able to recalibrate our own balance systems – critical to treatment and aging.
Professor Degg will explore how we test our balance systems when they are working – and when they are not. This is not easy for scientists as most measurements are indirect and clouded by multiple pathways and often multiple pathologies. And he will showcase the wonderful facilities available at De Montfort University allowing much of this work to be undertaken.
Professor Rea will undertake the second lecture. He will explore what happens when our balance system fails us. He will demonstrate how incredibly common this problem is (30% of us will see our GP before the age of 65 with dizziness) and how distressing it can be– yet it is a problem others cannot see. He will use a number of remarkable conditions, using real patient stories, drawing from his clinical experience to show the catastrophic consequences of failures in any one of multiple bodily systems involved in balance.
Professor Rea will then look at how Leicester is playing a leading role in helping develop treatments and investigations for disorders of balance with some remarkable results we should all be proud of.
Throughout both talks Professors Degg and Rea will share their life long fascination with disorders of balance, but promise not to assume any great scientific knowledge from the audience. So please do join us.
Bio for Professor Christopher Degg PhD, BSc (hons), CSci, CBiol, MIPEM, MRSB:
Professor Degg is a Consultant Clinical Scientist with the Nottingham University Hospitals, NHS Trust and holds both Chartered Scientist and Chartered Biologist status.
From 1993 to 2014 he was lead scientist and head of Evoked Potentials for the Department of Medical Physics, University Hospitals Leicester, responsible for ophthalmic, auditory and vestibular investigations, latterly becoming acting head of Physiological Measurements. In 2014 he became head of the Evoked Potentials Service in the Department of Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering, Nottingham University Hospitals.
He has a PhD in Ophthalmic Magnetoencephalography and qualifications in Audiology, Applied and Human Biology and Management.
Chris is an Honorary Senior Lecturer with the School of Allied Health Science, DMU; has provided invited lectures within the UK and abroad; is a longstanding member of faculty for the Leicester Balance Symposium; and has been an external examiner at both University College and City University London.
He is a member of the Royal Society of Biology and Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine and has been chair of the IPEM Physiological Measurements Specialist Interest Group.
Research interests have included congenital nystagmus; auditory and visual drug toxicity; visual processing and balance; auditory evoked potentials; equipment development and objective olfaction measurement.
Bio for Professor Peter Rea MA BM BCh FRCS (ENGLAND) FRCS (ORL):
Professor Rea began his medical studies at Cambridge University in 1985, graduating with First Class Honours. Clinical studies in Oxford included experience in India and Nepal, and at Harvard and Duke in the USA. He returned to Cambridge as a Demonstrator in Anatomy under Professor Harold Ellis in 1992.
His otolaryngology training was centred around the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital in London. He was awarded the Gold Medal of The Royal Society of Medicine in 2001. Then followed a year on Fellowship in balance medicine and cochlear implantation with Professor William Gibson in Sydney. In 2004 he was appointed consultant ENT Surgeon at The Leicester Royal Infirmary, specializing in balance medicine, complex middle ear surgery, and paediatric ENT.
Professor Rea is Chairman of The British Society of Neuro-otology, and Secretary of The British Society of Otology.
He is on the academic faculty of 7 international courses and runs the acclaimed annual Leicester Balance Course in collaboration with De Montfort University. He has written for many leading text books and published widely. Recent authorship includes work on balance testing and surgery, and a major paper in the Lancet on intra-tympanic therapies for Meniere’s Disease.