Eye Movements Are Correctly Timed During Walking Despite Bilateral Vestibular Hypofunction

Eric R. Anson, Tim Kiemel, John P. Carey, John J. Jeka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Individuals with bilateral vestibular hypofunction (BVH) often report symptoms of oscillopsia (the perception that the world is bouncing or unstable) during walking. Efference copy/proprioception contributes to locomotion gaze stability in animals, sometimes inhibiting the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR). Gaze stability requires both adequate eye velocity and appropriate timing of eye movements. It is unknown whether eye velocity (VOR gain), timing (phase), or both are impaired for individuals with BVH during walking. Identifying the specific mechanism of impaired gaze stability can better inform rehabilitation options. Gaze stability was measured for eight individuals with severe BVH and eight healthy age- and gender-matched controls while performing a gaze fixation task during treadmill walking. Frequency response functions (FRF) were calculated from pitch eye and head velocity. A one-way ANOVA was conducted to determine group differences for each frequency bin of the FRF. Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated to determine the relationship between the real and imaginary parts of the FRF and the Oscillopsia Visual Analog Scale (oVAS) scores. Individuals with BVH demonstrated significantly lower gains than healthy controls above 0.5 Hz, but their phase was ideally compensatory for frequencies below 3 Hz. Higher oVAS scores were correlated with lower gain. Individuals with BVH demonstrated ideal timing for vertical eye movements while walking despite slower than ideal eye velocity when compared to healthy controls. Rehabilitation interventions focusing on enhancing VOR gain during walking should be developed to take advantage of the intact timing reported here. Specifically, training VOR gain while walking may reduce oscillopsia severity and improve quality of life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)591-600
Number of pages10
JournalJARO - Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology
Volume18
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017

Keywords

  • VOR
  • gaze stability
  • vestibular loss
  • walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Sensory Systems

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