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Volunteers needed for neck pain and sleep apnoea studies


Sharlene King
23 May 2012
Two Southern Cross University Master of Osteopathic Medicine students are embarking on research into neck pain and sleep apnoea and they need help from the public.

Nick Steele will explore the association between posture, breathing and obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).

Lachlan Freebairn will research whether chronic neck pain is related to dysfunctional breathing patterns. Both are seeking members of the community to participate in their study.

OSA is caused by a narrowing of the airways during sleep. When the airways narrow, the flow of oxygen to the lungs is reduced and as a result the brain is stimulated to waken to increase ventilation and return oxygen levels to normal. This can occur over 100 times per night. As a result people with OSA can experience excessive sleepiness or lethargy.

Mr Steele is seeking people aged between 30 and 60 who have been diagnosed with OSA. The study will be non-invasive and participants will be assessed using cervical spine range of motion and manual assessment of respiratory motion. Each appointment will last approximately 20 minutes and will be held at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus. Participants can expect to gain a greater understanding of their own condition from the information sheet provided and a copy of the results when the study is complete.

Meanwhile, Mr Freebairn will investigate neck pain and dysfunctional breathing. Both topics have been the subject of many studies in isolation but few have investigated the links between the two. Mr Freebairn believes there is a gap in this area of research which he thinks could provide pain sufferers and health care practitioners with a vital clue to persistent neck pain that is unresponsive to standard care.

Mr Freebairn is looking for healthy people between the ages of 18 and 35 who are not current habitual smokers and have not smoked in the past six months and do not have any major medical conditions, or direct history of neck trauma. He is looking for healthy participants with chronic non-specific neck pain and healthy participants without neck pain.

If you are eligible for the study you will be asked to attend Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus for an appointment of approximately 20 minutes. Participants will be medically screened, complete a questionnaire used to measure neck pain, receive a hands on diagnostic assessment and complete three spirometry readings which are used to measure lung function. The manual assessment will require access to the participant’s lower rib cage and back while seated. This means the removal of any restrictive layers of clothing.

If you wish to participate in Mr Steele’s sleep apnoea study, based at SCU's Lismore campus, contact 02 6620 3676 or [email protected]

If you wish to participate in Mr Freebairn’s neck pain study, based at SCU's Lismore campus, contact 0409 572 533 or [email protected]
Photo: Master of Osteopathic Medicine students Nick Steele (left) and Lachlan Freebairn.