Walk on floor eyes closed (WOFEC): a new addition to an ataxia test battery.

  • Fregly A
  • Graybiel A
  • Smith M
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Abstract

THE PROBLEM To quantify, standardize, and validate a simple "old" clinical ataxia test for inclusion in an ataxia test battery. Administered under rigid conditions, it consists of walking on the floor with eyes closed, arms folded against the chest, and feet in heel- to-toe (tandem) position. FINDINGS The test was quantified by adopting the method of counting the number cF heel-to- toe steps (1 to 10) a person can take without sidestepping. Standardization was based on testing 287 normal men and 100 normal women. Validation was based on testing 22 individuals having labyrinthine defects of varying severity and crigin. This newly quantified test was found to be as valid an indicator of vestibular ataxia as other subtests of a multidimensional quantitative ataxin test battery with which it was compared. It has the advantages, however, becase of its simplicity, that unlike all other items of the battery, 1) it appears to be free of age influences, at least within the age range of 17 to 65 years sampled; and 2) nearly all of the normal and none of the abnormal individuals obtained a perfect score. Its use in combination with a related subtest of the battery (Sharpened Romberg) having equally high validity (r pt. bis = .837) is recommended for rapid, economical screening purposes. Data analysis permitted an innovative definition of ataxia in terms of a 5th per- centile cut-off criterion (4th percentile for WOFEC) relative to normative distributions of scores on ali (five) ataxia batte-y subtests performed with eyes c!osed. A unique finding of special interest and having both practical and theoretical implications suggested that abnormal function of the semicircular canals alone or of the otolith organs alone may be sufficient to demonstrate vestibular ataxia with this test battery. An ataxia test battery that includes WOFEC has applications in general medical, aerospace medical, audiological, pharmacological, and psychologi-al, otological, and neurological clinics and researchi laboratories.

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Authors

  • A R Fregly

  • A Graybiel

  • M J Smith

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