Association of the video head impulse test with improvement of dynamic balance and fall risk in patients with dizziness

Tzu Pu Chang, Michael C. Schubert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


IMPORTANCE It is important to know whether recovery of the vestibuloocular reflex (VOR) as measured by the video head impulse test (vHIT) is associated with the recovery of dynamic balance. It is also critical to know how much change in VOR gain is clinically relevant for establishing the recovery of dynamic balance. OBJECTIVES To investigate the association between improved VOR gain as measured by the vHIT and improved dynamic balance (reduced fall risk) as measured by the dynamic gait index (DGI) and to calculate the minimal clinically important difference of VOR gain. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS This retrospective case series studywas performed at a tertiary referral center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Thirty-eight consecutive patients with subacute or chronic dizziness from January 1, 2014, through May 31, 2017, who visited the vestibular physical therapy clinic were included in the study. INTERVENTIONS Each patient was evaluated with room light and video-infrared oculomotor examination, vHIT, and balance testing before and after vestibular physical therapy. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Gain of the lesioned VOR and score on the DGI. RESULTS Among the 38 patients (25 women [66%]; mean [SD] age, 65 [14] years), the mean (SD) initial lesioned VOR gain was 0.66 (0.23) and initial DGI score was 16 (3). No correlation was found between initial VOR gain and initial DGI score (r = -0.04; 95%CI, -0.35 to 0.28). At follow-up, 15 patients (39%) had an improved VOR gain and 30 (79%) had an improved DGI score, which was correlated (r = 0.49; 95%CI, 0.20-0.69). In those 15 patients with improved VOR gain, 14 (93%) had improvement of DGI score. In the 23 patients without improvement of VOR gain, 16 (70%) still showed improvement in their DGI score. When using VOR gain to estimate improvement of DGI, the minimal clinically important difference of VOR gain was -0.06. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE The change of VOR gain in the vHIT was moderately associated with the change of DGI score. Improved VOR gain was associated with a high probability of improved dynamic balance. However, inmost of the patients whose VOR gains did not improve, balance improvement occurred putatively through sensory reweighting strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)696-703
Number of pages8
JournalJAMA Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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