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Postural Compensation for Unilateral Vestibular Loss

By Robert J. Peterka, Kennyn D. Statler, Diane M. Wrisley and Fay B. Horak


Postural control of upright stance was investigated in well-compensated, unilateral vestibular loss (UVL) subjects compared to age-matched control subjects. The goal was to determine how sensory weighting for postural control in UVL subjects differed from control subjects, and how sensory weighting related to UVL subjects’ functional compensation, as assessed by standardized balance and dizziness questionnaires. Postural control mechanisms were identified using a model-based interpretation of medial–lateral center-of-mass body-sway evoked by support-surface rotational stimuli during eyes-closed stance. The surface-tilt stimuli consisted of continuous pseudorandom rotations presented at four different amplitudes. Parameters of a feedback control model were obtained that accounted for each subject’s sway response to the surface-tilt stimuli. Sensory weighting factors quantified the relative contributions to stance control of vestibular sensory information, signaling body-sway relative to earth-vertical, and proprioceptive information, signaling body-sway relative to the surface. Results showed that UVL subjects made significantly greater use of proprioceptive, and therefore less use of vestibular, orientation information on all tests. There was relatively little overlap in the distributions of sensory weights measured in UVL and control subjects, although UVL subjects varied widely in the amount they could use their remaining vestibular function. Increased reliance on proprioceptive information by UVL subjects was associated with their balance being more disturbed by the surface-tilt perturbations than control subjects, thus indicating a deficiency of balance control even in well-compensated UVL subjects. Furthermore, there was some tendency for UVL subjects who were less able to utilize remaining vestibular information to also indicate worse functional compensation on questionnaires

Topics: Neuroscience
Publisher: Frontiers Research Foundation
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Provided by: PubMed Central

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