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, 126 (10), 984-8

The Contribution of Hearing to Normal Balance


The Contribution of Hearing to Normal Balance

R G Kanegaonkar et al. J Laryngol Otol.


Introduction: Normal balance relies on three sensory inputs: vision, proprioception and the peripheral vestibular system. This study assessed hearing change and postural control in normal subjects.

Materials and methods: Postural control in 20 normal volunteers was assessed using a Nintendo Wii gaming console and balance board. Each subject was tested standing upright for 30 seconds in a clinic room and a soundproof room with their eyes open, eyes closed, whilst standing on and off foam, and with and without ear defenders.

Results: There was significantly more postural sway in the following subjects: those standing with their eyes closed vs those with eyes open (normal room, p = 0.0002; soundproof room, p = 0.0164); those standing on foam with eyes open vs those standing normally with eyes open (in both rooms; p < 0.05); those standing with eyes open in a soundproof room vs a normal room (p = 0.0164); and those standing on foam in a soundproof room with eyes open and wearing ear defenders vs those in the same circumstances but without ear defenders.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that this method provides a simple, inexpensive tool for assessing static postural control. Whilst it is recognised that visual input and proprioception play a central role in maintaining posture, our findings suggest that ambient sound and hearing may also have a significant influence.

Comment in

  • Saccular sensitivity to sound.
    Papathanasiou ES. Papathanasiou ES. J Laryngol Otol. 2013 Jan;127(1):107. doi: 10.1017/S0022215112002551. Epub 2012 Nov 13. J Laryngol Otol. 2013. PMID: 23149101 No abstract available.

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