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Does Otolith Organ Dysfunction Influence Outcomes After a Customized Program of Vestibular Rehabilitation?

Murray, Katherine J. PhD; Hill, Keith PhD; Phillips, Bev PhD; Waterston, John MD, FRACP

Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy: June 2010 - Volume 34 - Issue 2 - pp 70-75
doi: 10.1097/NPT.0b013e3181dde5dd

Background and Purpose: Vestibular rehabilitation (VR) is a successful approach to the treatment of vestibular dysfunction. The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of otolith dysfunction on the response to VR in individuals with a peripheral vestibular disorder.

Participants and Methods: Eighteen participants with loss of semicircular canal function only, and 29 participants with combined loss of semicircular canal and otolith organ function were recruited. All participants received a comprehensive clinical assessment before and after an 8-week customized program of VR.

Results: Both groups achieved significant improvements on most measures at the end of the 8-week VR program. However, no significant differences were identified between participants with versus without otolith dysfunction with respect to change in symptom severity (P = .81), self-perceived handicap (P = .92), functional limitations (P = .93), or balance performance after VR.

Discussion and Conclusions: Otolith dysfunction does not significantly influence the response to rehabilitation of individuals with a peripheral vestibular disorder. Vestibular rehabilitation is associated improvements in symptom severity, self-perceived handicap, and balance function in individuals with otolith dysfunction.

Dizzy Day Clinics (K.J.M.), East Richmond, Melbourne; Musculoskeletal Research Centre (K.H.), La Trobe University and Northern Health, Bundoora; National Ageing Research Institute (K.H.), Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, Victoria; Department of Health Sciences (B.P.), La Trobe University, Bundoora; Ballarat Health Services (B.P.), Queen Elizabeth Centre—South, Ballarat, Victoria; Department of Neuroscience (J.W.), Monash University, Clayton, Victoria; and Department of Medicine (J.W.), Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia.

Supported by Garnett Passe and Rodney Williams Memorial Foundation.

Correspondence: Katherine Murray, E-mail:

© 2010 Neurology Section, APTA