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The Use of Optokinetic Stimulation in Vestibular Rehabilitation

Pavlou, Marousa PhD, BA, MCSP

Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy: June 2010 - Volume 34 - Issue 2 - p 105-110
doi: 10.1097/NPT.0b013e3181dde6bf

Individuals with vestibular dysfunction may experience visual vertigo (VV), in which symptoms are provoked or exacerbated by excessive or disorienting visual stimuli (eg, supermarkets). Individuals with VV are believed to be overly reliant on visual input for balance (ie, visually dependent). VV can significantly improve when customized vestibular rehabilitation exercises are combined with exposure to optokinetic stimuli. However, the frequency of treatment sessions (twice weekly for 8 weeks) and the equipment used (expensive and space consuming) make it difficult to incorporate these techniques into everyday clinical practice where exercises may be practiced unsupervised. The aim of this focused review is to provide an overview of recent findings investigating (a) responses of individuals with vestibular deficits to a customized exercise program incorporating exposure to optokinetic stimuli via a “high-tech” visual environment rotator or a “low-tech” DVD with and without supervision, and (b) the mechanism of recovery. Optokinetic stimulation will also be discussed in relation to other new innovations in vestibular rehabilitation techniques and future work.

Division of Physiotherapy, School of Biomedical Sciences, Kings College London, United Kingdom.

Correspondence: Marousa Pavlou, E-mail:

© 2010 Neurology Section, APTA