Somaesthetic perception of the vertical in spinal cord injured patients: A clinical study

  • Joassin R
  • Bonniaud V
  • Barra J
  • et al.
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Purpose: The perception of verticality results from the integration of vestibular, visual and somatosensory information. Spinal cord injured patients with complete paraplegia have total somatosensory deafferentation below a certain metameric segment. In our study, we were interested in the implication of somatosensory signal in the construction of verticality and in the possible effect of somatosensory loss on spatial representation. Method: We analysed haptic and postural aspects of perceived verticality in 14 spinal cord injured patients with complete paraplegia and in an age- and gender-matched group of 13 controls. We also conducted a structured interview on the existence of vertigo or postural instability in daily life. Results: The spinal cord injured patients perceived verticality without any significant directional bias in the orientation of the vertical but with a greater uncertainty than control subjects, both in haptic and postural modalities. If paraplegic did not report vertigo, half described an altered spatial perception without vision. Conclusion: The present results confirm the importance of sensory input from the trunk and the lower limbs in the perception of the vertical. However, visual and vestibular information appear to compensate for somatosensory deafferentation. © 2010 Elsevier Masson SAS.




Joassin, R., Bonniaud, V., Barra, J., Marquer, A., & Pérennou, D. (2010). Somaesthetic perception of the vertical in spinal cord injured patients: A clinical study. Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, 53(9), 568–574.

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