Postural compensation for unilateral vestibular loss

Robert J. Peterka, Kennyn D. Statler, Diane M. Wrisley, Fay B. Horak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Postural control of upright stance was investigated in well-compensated, unilateral vestibu-lar loss (UVL) subjects compared to age-matched control subjects. The goal was to deter-mine how sensory weighting for postural control in UVL subjects differed from control subjects, and how sensory weighting related to UVL subjects' functional compensation, as assessed by standardized balance and dizziness questionnaires. Postural control mecha-nisms were identified using a model-based interpretation of medial-lateral center-of-mass body-sway evoked by support-surface rotational stimuli during eyes-closed stance. The surface-tilt stimuli consisted of continuous pseudorandom rotations presented at four dif-ferent amplitudes. Parameters of a feedback control model were obtained that accounted for each subject's sway response to the surface-tilt stimuli. Sensory weighting factors quan-tified the relative contributions to stance control of vestibular sensory information, signaling body-sway relative to earth-vertical, and proprioceptive information, signaling body-sway relative to the surface. Results showed that UVL subjects made significantly greater use of proprioceptive, and therefore less use of vestibular, orientation information on all tests. There was relatively little overlap in the distributions of sensory weights measured in UVL and control subjects, although UVL subjects varied widely in the amount they could use their remaining vestibular function. Increased reliance on proprioceptive information by UVL subjects was associated with their balance being more disturbed by the surface-tilt perturbations than control subjects, thus indicating a deficiency of balance control even in well-compensated UVL subjects. Furthermore, there was some tendency for UVL sub-jects who were less able to utilize remaining vestibular information to also indicate worse functional compensation on questionnaires.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberArticle 57
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
StatePublished - 2011


  • Balance
  • Compensation
  • Posture
  • Unilateral
  • Vestibular

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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