Double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of rehabilitation for bilateral vestibular hypofunction: preliminary report

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1993 Oct;109(4):735-41. doi: 10.1177/019459989310900417.


Vestibular rehabilitation (VR) is increasingly popular, but few data exist to support enthusiasts' claims of efficacy in improving functional abilities of patients with bilateral vestibular hypofunction (BVH). A double-blind, controlled study of eight subjects (mean, 64 +/- 12 years; seven females, one male) with bilateral vestibular hypofunction was conducted. Subjects in group A received 8 weeks of VR followed by 8 weeks of home VR exercises, whereas those in group B received 8 weeks of control treatment (isometric strengthening exercises) followed by 8 weeks of VR. At the end of 8 weeks, group A walked 8% faster and, during paced gait and stair-climbing, with greater stability, evidenced by a 10% larger maximum moment arm and a 17% decreased double-support duration during gait and stair stance. Group B improved less than 1% during the control treatment. Self-reported Dizziness Handicap Inventory scores did not differ significantly between control and active VR. All subjects improved compared with baseline tests at the 16-week post-test on both functional testing and on the Self-reported Dizziness Handicap Inventory scale. We conclude that in this small sample, VR effectively improved functional, dynamic stability during locomotion, but even strengthening exercises result in self-reported symptomatic improvement.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Chronic Disease
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Electronystagmography / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Gait
  • Humans
  • Locomotion
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rotation
  • Vestibular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Vestibular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Vestibular Diseases / rehabilitation*
  • Vestibular Function Tests / statistics & numerical data