Postural compensation for vestibular loss and implications for rehabilitation

  • Horak F
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Abstract

To what extent can remaining sensory information and/or sensory biofeedback (BF) compensate for loss of vestibular information in controlling postural equilibrium? The primary role of the vestibulospinal system is as a vertical reference for control of the trunk in space, with increasing importance as the surface becomes increasingly unstable. Our studies with patients with bilateral loss of vestibular function show that vision or light touch from a fingertip can substitute as a reference for earth vertical to decrease variability of trunk sway when standing on an unstable surface. However, some patients with bilateral loss compensate better than others, and found that those with more complete loss of bilateral vestibular function compensate better than those with measurable vestibulo-ocular reflexes. In contrast, patients with unilateral vestibular loss (UVL) who reweight sensory dependence to rely on their remaining unilateral vestibular function show better functional performance than those who do not increase vestibular weighting on an unstable surface. Light touch of

Author-supplied keywords

  • Balance
  • Compensation
  • Posture
  • Rehabilitation
  • Vestibular loss

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Authors

  • Fay B. Horak

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