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Active Senior Couple

128 participants have been recruited!

Recruitment has finished.

This study includes people aged 50 years or over, who are living in the Perth metropolitan area and have mild cognitive impairment or memory issues.

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About the trial

The Balance on the Brain trial is a large scale research study in Western Australia aimed at improving physical health and preventing falls for people living in the community with mild cognitive impairment. We are measuring how effective usual daily living is compared to a new innovative balance and movement program. This study may be ideal for those not wishing to participate in drug trials.

Participants in this trial are helping us to improve quality of life and cognition for millions of people around the world living with mild cognitive impairment.

About the trial

People living with mild cognitive impairment tend to experience poorer mobility, balance and physical fitness, have poorer quality of life and greater depressive symptoms [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Importantly, people with mild cognitive impairment are 72% more likely to fall and will use more health care services than those of the same age without mild cognitive impairment [7].

Even if you feel like you are not having any difficulty with your mobility or balance now and you have not had a fall recently, becoming more physically active can benefit you today, but more importantly will benefit you greatly in the future.


Physical activity provides benefits for people at any age and there is growing evidence that it can benefit people with mild cognitive impairment too [8]. For people with no cognitive impairment the research is clear that participating in balance programs can reduce the risk of falling [9]. However, it is unknown whether balance training can help reduce the risk of falling for people living with mild cognitive impairment. This will be one of the first large research trials in the world to find out if we can help to reduce or prevent falls for people living with mild cognitive impairment.

The research project will also show us if we can improve physical health and quality of life and reduce the rate of cognitive decline for people living with mild cognitive impairment.

Living with mild cognitive impairment

Participants are:

  • 50 years or older

  • living in the community (Perth metropolitan area)

  • have a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment or are experiencing memory issues

  • not meeting the physical activity guidelines (ie less than 150 minutes of moderate activity a week) and

  • not doing regular balance training.

The study is aimed at improving quality of life and physical health and reducing falls and cognitive decline for people with mild cognitive impairment.

For more information about the study please read below or contact Dr Elissa Burton (Lead Researcher) for more information on (08) 9266 4926.



What is the project about?

  • In this study, we compare usual daily living to a balance and mobility program to see which is better for

    • physical health and quality of life and whether it can reduce ​​

    • cognitive decline and falls and

    • what the associated costs are.

  • Balance training helps older people without memory issues to prevent falls, but it is unclear whether improving balance can help people with mild cognitive impairment.

  • This study will test this in a group of 396 adults (aged 50+ years).

Who is doing the research?

This project is being conducted by a team of experts, including Dr Elissa Burton PhD, Associate Professor Rachael Moorin PhD, Associate Professor Joanne McVeigh, Mrs Angela Jacques (Curtin University), Professor Keith Hill PhD (Monash University), Professor Nicola Lautenschlager PhD, Associate Professor Kathryn Ellis (University of Melbourne), Professor Anne-Marie Hill PhD, Professor Kirk Erickson PhD (University of Pittsburgh), Ms Meg Lowry Physiotherapist (Next Step Health).

We also have a number of health professionals involved including 

  • Geriatricians: Dr Joel Tate (Armadale Hospital), Dr Sarah Bernard (Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital)

  • Neurologist: Dr Carolyn Orr (Royal Perth Hospital)

  • Physiotherapists: Luke Bongiascia (Rockingham Hospital)

Has the study received Human Research Ethics Approval?


South Metropolitan Health Service (SMHS - RGS3930), the Western Australian Department of Health (WA DoH - RGS3930) and Curtin University (HRE2020-0378) Human Research Ethics Committees have all approved the research study. 


Curtin University is responsible for the research project which it is conducted independently of any hospitals and the Government of Western Australia.

What happens next and who can I contact about the research?


If you have any questions about the research study please call Dr Elissa Burton on (08) 9266 4926 or email for more information, to ask questions or to participate.

Click here to download the full Participant Information Sheet and Consent Form

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This research is being conducted by a team of experts in balance and mobility in Australia. Our team of researchers, many of whom have also had extensive clinical experience are representing a number of disciplines including exercise science, physiotherapy, psychiatry, psychology, occupational therapy, health economics and a bio statistician. We all share a passion for finding new ways to help people with memory issues to live more healthy and enjoyable lives. The team of Chief Investigators includes:

Curtin University

Dr Elissa Burton PhD

Associate Professor Rachael Moorin PhD

Associate Professor Joanne McVeigh PhD

Monash University

Professor Keith Hill PhD

University of Melbourne

Professor Nicola Lautenschlager PhD

Associate Professor Kathryn Ellis PhD

University of Notre Dame (Australia)

Mrs Angela Jacques MBiostats

University of Pittsburgh

Professor Kirk Erickson PhD

University of Western Australia

Professor Anne-Marie Hill PhD

Next Step Health

Ms Meg Lowry  Qualified Physiotherapist

Associate Investigators on the research team working with people with memory issues and mild cognitive impairment include:

Dr Joel Tate - Geriatrician, Armadale Hospital

Dr Sarah Bernard - Geriatrician, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital

Dr Carolyn Orr - Neurologist, Royal Perth Hospital

Luke Bongiascia - Physiotherapist, Rockingham Hospital

Shannon Williams - Physiotherapist, Royal Perth Hospital

Melanie Clark - Neuro Sciences Unit

Partner Organisations

Alzheimer's Western Australia

Injury Matters

Study Staff

Karen Levit - Research Officer

Stephanie Fullarton - Research Officer

Ash Osborne - Research Officer

Jane Hopkins - PhD candidate

Daniela Yates - Physiotherapist

Anna Zimmerman - Physiotherapist

About Us

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"I rather like the program. It often helps me refocus and in some aspects is like a meditation in that it helps me get out of my busy and scatty head" - Participant 55

"It is my participation in the Balance on the Brain Study that has provided the motivation to regain a level of fitness that was able to prevent a catastrophe" [i.e. prevented a fall down stairs] - Participant 15

"I have really enjoyed it and it has had a reaffirming and positive impact on my emotional state" - Participant 1

"The program has greatly improved my leg strength in moving in all the different directions" - Participant 15

"I had a follow up appointment with one of your participants, whom I referred to Balance of the Brain program. She told me that this program not only improved her balance and confidence and falls, it also helped her memory and ‘Saved her life’. I had to write this small note to acknowledge the compliment." Geriatrician referring potential participants

"I think it’s excellent. The integration of the physical and the mental, I was very impressed with how that was done" Participant 60

"I think they do a fantastic job fitting in with what people have in their homes. I mean it could be in just one room or a verandah. I think it’s fantastic the way they can adapt it to your conditions." Participant 60

"It’s been something different and something new and I think it’s sort of given me a different outlook and I definitely have felt the benefit." Participant 42

"I’d had a fall and I was probably just a little bit concerned and I thought well, if I do something with my brain it might help. And I feel it definitely has. I’ve got a spring back in my step and I do look for opportunities now to walk." Participant 45


Contact Us

Curtin University, Perth WA

 (08) 9266 4926

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