Effect of proprioceptor stimulation on postural stability in patients with peripheral or central vestibular lesion

Acta Otolaryngol. 1991;111(1):27-35. doi: 10.3109/00016489109137351.


Body sway in upright stance at rest and after inducing proprioceptor stimulation, elicited by vibration applied to the calf or neck muscles, was studied in 11 patients with peripheral lesion and in 17 patients with central vestibular lesion. The responses were compared with those of 20 normal subjects. Vibratory stimulus was applied at five different frequencies, ranging from 32 to 150 Hz, and at a constant amplitude of 2.1 mm. Postural stability was measured with a force platform in terms of average deviation of body position (ADBP) analyzed in relation to the individual maximum support distance in the anterio-posterior direction. In patients with peripheral vestibular lesion ADBP was moderately increased, compared to normal subjects, when the calf muscles were exposed to vibration under eyes closed conditions (i.e. no visual information available); stimulation of neck muscles both under eyes open and eyes closed conditions and stimulation of calf muscles with open eyes produced an ADBP of the same magnitude as in controls. In patients with central vestibular lesion, proprioceptor stimulation of calf and neck muscles caused increased ADBP whether with eyes open or closed. The ADBP induced by stimulation of neck muscles was significantly greater in patients with a central lesion than in those with a peripheral vestibular lesion. The results indicate that patients with peripheral lesion differ from those with central vestibular lesion in their reaction to proprioceptor stimulus; and that in patients with central vestibular lesion proprioceptor stimulation of the neck muscles produces disproportionately powerful cervico-collic reflexes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Brain Stem / blood supply
  • Humans
  • Infarction / physiopathology
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuritis / physiopathology
  • Postural Balance / physiology
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Proprioception / physiology*
  • Spinocerebellar Degenerations / physiopathology
  • Vestibular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Vestibular Nerve / physiopathology*
  • Vestibular Nuclei / physiopathology*
  • Vestibulocochlear Nerve Diseases / physiopathology