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J Vestib Res. 2012 Jan 1;22(2):129-38.

Postural performance of vestibular loss patients under increased postural threat.

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  • 1Man-Vehicle Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139-4305, USA.


The effects of increasing postural task difficulty on balance control was investigated in 9 compensated vestibular loss patients whose results were compared to 11 healthy adults. Subjects were tested in static (stable support) and dynamic (sinusoidal translation of the support) conditions, both at floor level and at height (62 cm above the floor), and with and without vision, to create an additional postural threat. Wavelet analysis of the center of foot pressure displacement and motion analysis of the body segments were used to evaluate the postural performance. Evaluation questionnaires were used to examine the compensation level of the patients (DHI test), their general anxiety level (SAST), fear of height (subjective scale), and workload (NASA TLX test). (Vestibular loss patients rely more on vision and spend more energy maintaining balance than controls, but they use the same postural strategy as normals in both static and dynamic conditions.) Questionnaire data all showed differences in behavior and perceptions between the controls and the patients. However, at height and without vision, a whole body strategy leading to rigid posture replaces the head stabilization strategy found for standing at floor level. The effects of height on postural control can be attributable to an increase in postural threat and attention changes resulting from modifications in perception.

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