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  • Writer's picturePhysiosforME

Funding success for vagus nerve study

We are thrilled to announce that we have secured funding for a research project looking at vagus nerve stimulation for people with ME.

Funds have been provided through the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy Charitable Trust Physiotherapy Research Foundation Award.

The project will focus on transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (“taVNS”), a non-invasive method of stimulating the vagus nerve via electrodes attached to the ear. This method is thought to influence the autonomic nervous system and improve symptoms of autonomic dysfunction. From our previous research 56% of people with ME had a positive experience of taVNS and 67.2% would recommend it to other people with ME, but 20% had a negative experience, 4.3% would not recommend it and 28% stopped using it. We also found that people with ME who had difficulty setting up the devices were more likely to experience short-term harmful effects.

We therefore felt this was an important area to explore so we can better assess whether taVNS is beneficial for people with ME and what protocols are safe.

The study will be a mixed methods feasibility randomised controlled trial. We want to establish the acceptability, adherence, recruitment and retention rates, sample size and outcome measures, in order to inform a larger study. We’ll also aim to understand the experience of using taVNS and evaluate its safety for people with ME.

To help inform this study, we are currently running a second survey, which is still open, and we strongly encourage anyone who is using taVNS – or has tried it in the past – to contribute here.

There is still a lot of preparatory work to be done before we can begin recruitment, so please do not contact us about participation until we provide more information about what the study will involve and who we will be looking for, which will be hopefully towards the end of summer. The study will be run through the University of Liverpool and testing is carried out at participant’s homes, so recruitment will be restricted to the North West.

More information will be released via our blog, the research page on our website and through our social media channels.

We'd like to thank the CSP for this opportunity, and the project team for their invaluable time and support.

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