Gain and delay of human vestibulo-ocular reflexes to oscillation and steps of the head by a reactive torque helmet. II. Vestibular-deficient subjects

Acta Otolaryngol. 1997 Nov;117(6):796-809. doi: 10.3109/00016489709114204.


Vestibulo-ocular reflexes (VOR) were evaluated with a reactive torque helmet that imposed high-frequency oscillation (2-20 Hz) or step displacements of the head in the horizontal plane. The present paper describes the results in patients with vestibular deficiencies (labyrinthine defective; LD); experimental and analytical techniques and results for normal subjects were described in Part 1 of this paper. The patient groups included: total unilateral LD (related to acoustic neuroma; n = 40); severe (clinically total) bilateral LD (n = 7); bilateral hyporeflexia (n = 14); unilateral hyporeflexia (n = 11); and patients with LD phenomena that had subsided (n = 3). Helmet-induced head steps provided the most specific information. Characteristically, gain was lowered in one direction or both directions after unilateral or bilateral vestibular lesions, respectively; in general, the magnitude of the gain reduction correlated well with the degree of complaints and disability. Surprisingly, delay was systematically prolonged (up to several tens of milliseconds) in all groups of subjects with manifest vestibular pathology. These results suggest that the determination of delay, in addition to gain of the VOR, is feasible and important in the evaluation of vestibular function. The results of head oscillation generally supported the results for steps, but were somewhat less specific. The responses to manually generated head steps roughly agreed with those to helmet-induced steps, but because of the non-uniform acceleration they allowed a less exact analysis of VOR function.

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Eye Movements / physiology
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Head Protective Devices
  • Humans
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reflex, Vestibulo-Ocular / physiology*
  • Rotation
  • Vestibular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Vestibular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Vestibular Function Tests / instrumentation*
  • Vestibular Function Tests / methods