The relationship of cervical joint position error to balance and eye movement disturbances in persistent whiplash

Man Ther. 2006 May;11(2):99-106. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2005.04.003.


Cervical joint position error (JPE) has been used as a measure of cervical afferent input to detect disturbances in sensori-motor control as a possible contributor to a neck pain syndrome. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between cervical JPE, balance and eye movement control. It was of particular interest whether assessment of cervical JPE alone was sufficient to signal the presence of disturbances in the two other tests. One hundred subjects with persistent whiplash-associated disorders (WADs) and 40 healthy controls subjects were assessed on measures of cervical JPE, standing balance and the smooth pursuit neck torsion test (SPNT). The results indicated that over all subjects, significant but weak-to-moderate correlations existed between all comfortable stance balance tests and both the SPNT and rotation cervical JPE tests. A weak correlation was found between the SPNT and right rotation cervical JPE. An abnormal rotation cervical JPE score had a high positive prediction value (88%) but low sensitivity (60%) and specificity (54%) to determine abnormality in balance and or SPNT test. The results suggest that in patients with persistent WAD, it is not sufficient to measure JPE alone. All three measures are required to identify disturbances in the postural control system.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atlanto-Axial Joint / physiopathology*
  • Cervical Vertebrae / physiopathology*
  • Dizziness / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck Pain / etiology
  • Ocular Motility Disorders / etiology*
  • Postural Balance*
  • Proprioception
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Torsion Abnormality
  • Whiplash Injuries / complications*