Role of vestibular input in triggering and modulating postural responses in unilateral and bilateral vestibular loss patients

Audiol Neurootol. 2009;14(2):130-8. doi: 10.1159/000162665. Epub 2008 Oct 14.


The aim of this study was to determine whether the greater medial-lateral (ML) instability observed in patients with compensated unilateral vestibular loss (UVL), tested on a seesaw platform with eyes closed, is task-dependent. UVL patients, categorized into three groups according to time since lesion (1 week, 1 month and 1 year), bilateral vestibular loss patients and age-matched healthy control subjects were tested in three dynamic postural tasks. These tasks involved different supports - a seesaw platform (Satel), a platform generating horizontal linear translations (Synapsys) and foam rubber placed on a static platform - each requiring different somatosensory cues to maintain equilibrium. Displacements of the subjects' center of pressure in both the anterior-posterior (AP) and ML directions were recorded by strain gauges within the platforms. Only tests performed with eyes closed were analyzed. Bilateral vestibular loss patients fell during foam and seesaw trials but not on the platform generating translations. We previously reported that UVL patients had greater postural oscillations on the seesaw platform in the ML compared to AP direction. In this study, we show similar ML/AP differences in patient performance on foam when standing with 'feet close together'. In contrast, these differences were not found when patients were tested on linear translation or on foam standing with feet apart. In conclusion, the postural performance of patients with vestibular loss depends on the exact task used to measure postural stability. UVL patients are less stable when subjected to movement in the ML direction because of the biomechanical constraints of the tasks and/or the availability of proprioceptive information.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Foot / physiology
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Proprioception / physiology*
  • Vestibular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Vestibular Diseases / etiology
  • Vestibular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth / physiology*